June 2, 2024

Jesus is Our Sabbath Rest

Passage: Mark 2:23-28

Jonah Albrecht

June 2nd, 2024

2nd Sunday After Pentecost

Mark 2:23-28

Jesus is Our Sabbath Rest

23One Sabbath [Jesus] was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 26how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” 27And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”

Grace, Mercy, and Peace to you from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

In the name of Jesus, who is the Sabbath rest for our souls, dear fellow redeemed:

It has been just over 50 years since the personal computer was invented in 1973. Since then, technology has increased dramatically. We have more powerful computers in our phones than they could ever imagine when the Altair 8800 was released. We are able to stream live events at the push of a button, answer nearly any question with a quick google search, and learn from experts in numerous fields with a simple pdf download. The possibilities we have with our computers today are endless. But is that a good thing? Have computers caused more trouble than they are worth?

The endless scrolling through social media, the mental impact anonymous posting has on our youth, the wicked material that can too easily be found online. There are plenty of evils that come along with computers, but that can be said about most anything in this world. The computer was not invented to cause problems. It was created to help mankind. To help them compute faster, store more data, share information, etc. The twisted evils that come from computers is from the man sitting at the computer.

This is also true when it comes to the Sabbath Day. God instituted the Sabbath Day as a commandment to the Children of Israel in Exodus 20. No man, woman, son, daughter, foreigner, or slave was to do any work on the 7th day, Saturday. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. God gave this command so that the people would remember how they once were slaves in Egypt. As slaves, they would work 7 days a week with no rest. God delivered them from that slavery, He gave them rest. It was a day for them to honor and thank God for the work HE did to save them and to focus on the work that the promised Messiah would do to save them eternally.

In Jesus’ day, the Sabbath was still adhered to by Jews everywhere. However, by the time Jesus started His ministry, the Sabbath wasn’t exactly how God commanded it. The Pharisees, the leaders of the church, had added on to God’s command for rest. In the Talmud, the book of Jewish traditions, there are 24 chapters listing various Sabbath laws. On the Sabbath, you could not travel more than 3,000 feet from your house. You were not allowed to carry anything that weighed more than a dried fig. You couldn’t carry a needle for fear you might sew something. Taking a bath was forbidden. Water might splash on the floor and wash it. Women were not to look in a mirror; they might pull a gray hair.

The Pharisees were motivated by their own self-righteous rules.  They had zero compassion for people.  That’s why Jesus used the example He did.  When David was running from King Saul, he and his men took refuge in the courtyard of the tabernacle.  They were hungry and asked the priest if there was any food for them to eat.  “There is food,” the priest replied.  “But…”  You see, each week loaves of bread were set out in the tabernacle to remind people of how God was continually with them and provided daily bread for them.  Each week, fresh loaves were brought in and the old loaves were eaten.  But the rule was that they were only to be eaten by the priests.  So, when David asked for food – what was the priest to do?  Should he keep the priest-only rule and let David and his men go hungry?  Or should he have compassion and give them some bread.

The priest chose the latter and was right.  The showbread, like the Sabbath itself, was meant to be a blessing.  It was one of the ways God demonstrated His concern for the priests.  The tribe of Levi was not given a territory in Israel, yet the Lord would provide for them and their families.  The Sabbath was meant to do the same thing.  It was designed to show that you don’t have to work 24/7 because God has promised to provide for your needs.  Unlike the Pharisees, God is filled with compassion for people.  The Sabbath law was supposed to be a double blessing.  God committed Himself to taking care of their physical needs so that He could also take care of their spiritual needs.

It’s no surprise that Satan twisted God’s mercy into an attack on the Gospel.  He turned God’s work into man’s work.  Gospel became law, mercy became merit.  It still happens today when people teach that Baptism is not God’s work for us, but it’s a sign of our commitment to Him.  It happens when the Lord’s Supper is turned into an ordinance or good work – something we must do for God.   The Sabbath was all about God’s loving work for mankind, not about people’s work for God.  The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.

The true meaning of the Sabbath, as Jesus says, is Himself. He, the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.

Today, we do not have the Sabbath day the same way the Israelites did in the Old Testament. However, God still provides for His people a Sabbath rest. This Sabbath rest is spiritual and it can happen every day. Jesus describes it when He says in Matthew 11, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

How well do you suppose you could go without sleeping? After one day, your body will certainly feel the effects, but you could probably manage to get through the day. After two days, your body starts to shut down and depression might set in as well as memory loss. After three days? Full blown hallucinations. If that is how drastically a lack of sleep can affect your physical body, how much more serious is it for your soul when you go without the Sabbath rest?

There is a difference between going without sleep and going without the Sabbath rest. The longer you go without sleep, the easier it is to fall asleep; but the longer you go without the Sabbath rest, the easier it is to stay away completely. God did not do away with the Sabbath because it was always meant to be a Gospel benefit for His people, including you and me. It is necessary for our lives as Christians to enter this Sabbath rest. How do we do that? Every time you open your Bible to read God’s Word, or come to church with your fellow believers, or even utter prayers to the Lord, all of those is how we enter the Sabbath rest in Jesus.

After 6 days of creating the universe, God rested on the seventh day from His labor. So also on the seventh day, the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, rested from His work of salvation in the tomb. He rested because, like God’s creation, His work was complete. He had finished everything necessary to grant you forgiveness of your sins and new life in His name. But He did not remain in that rest. On Sunday, He rose from the dead securing an ever-present spiritual rest for you by becoming the one Mediator between God and man.

The Sabbath was made for man because we so desperately need it. It isn’t just one day of the week that we ought to enter this spiritual rest. Satan doesn’t only work on Sundays. No, every day we ought to enter the safety of our Savior Jesus. Receive from Him forgiveness and strength to fight the good fight of faith and finally reach that blessed eternal rest in heaven.

Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. We all learned this commandment at one point in our lives. For many it may have seemed a little irrelevant because we do not have the Sabbath day anymore. That is true. We do not have the Sabbath as part of a ceremonial law we must perform. We do have the Sabbath rest as a gift from God and a means by which we receive the Gospel. We have the One who fulfilled the Sabbath for us, granting us immediate and unending access to this wondrous spiritual rest. Jesus is our Sabbath Rest. Amen.

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