One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”
Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:23-28
Here we have good “religious” people obeying God and Jesus causing more confusion. The next big question he receives is about God’s command to rest. While the teachers of the law are trying to do what is right, it seems as if Jesus is neglecting obedience completely. It might be akin to Jesus coming into our world and deciding to refrain from attending a weekend church service. We may associate our obedience to God’s command for Sabbath with going to church.
However, Jesus is deepening their understanding of Sabbath.
God established rest in the fabric of the cosmos. He hard-wired the need for rest into our human bones. God modeled a rhythm for rest when he set apart one day to enjoy his creation, and God commanded us to do the same. Because God loves us and desires for us to experience his rest, he designed Sabbath as a weekly reminder to delight in him and the beautiful life he’s given us.
It’s God’s heart for us to experience freedom and joy in finding God’s peace and restoration. But, when we have our heads down and are busy trying to dot our i’s and cross our t’s spiritually, we miss the point of God’s command to rest. God commands it because it’s the best thing for us. Sabbath is a gift to be received, not a burdensome command. Setting apart one day of the week is beautiful because it helps us re-center, remember what’s true, and fill up our tanks of love, joy, peace, and hope.
Apprentices of Jesus are marked by being with Jesus, becoming like Jesus and doing as he does. Set apart one 24-hour period to enter God’s rest and schedule it on your calendar. Choose one way to be with God, one thing that gives you personal delight, and one thing to do with your loved ones.
By Yvonne Biel