WORK, REST, AND PLAY
Lord Jesus, I thank you that nothing is powerful enough to separate me from your love.
Read Matthew 12:1–14
Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath
12 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”
3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’[a] you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.
- Matthew 12:7 Hosea 6:6
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat activities do you find ‘tank-filling’ in life? Thank God that he made you unique!
In the beginning… there was rest (Genesis 2:2,3). God instituted the Sabbath for the rest and well-being of creation. Later, he enshrined it in the Ten Commandments, declaring it ‘holy’ and ‘blessed’ (Exodus 20:8–11), signifying liberation after the years of unrelenting slavery in Egypt. If Sabbath was God’s idea, why was Jesus okay with his disciples breaking it (vs 2)?
Jesus exposes the flaw of the legalistic mindset (vs 7–12), showing that we can check all the spiritual boxes and still miss out on a richness of relationship with our Divine Lover. What God gave for liberation, the religious leaders turned into a burden of rule-keeping, as if God only accepts us on the terms of our hard work. When we’re striving, we’re not thriving! The easy yoke of Jesus (11:28–30) restores God’s priority: ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath’ (Mark 2:27).
Sabbath is more than a particular day of the week or doing nothing but ‘spiritual’ things. “The Sabbath, when experienced as God intended, is the best day of our lives … the holy time where we feast, play, dance…sing, pray, laugh, tell stories, read, paint, walk, and watch creation in its fullness.”*
Life will squeeze us into its shape unless we’re intentional about our work, rest and play. Take a stand! How about a digital detox or more walks in God’s creation?
Gracious God, thank you for this timely reminder that the Sabbath is a day for liberty and liberation, not legalism. Sometimes needs override a custom. Help me to put this insight into practice.
*Dan Allender, Sabbath, Thomas Nelson, 2009, pp4–5
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