Jesus: Lord of the Sabbath

“… So, let’s start at the beginning. When God created everything, in Genesis 1 (and reviewed in Genesis 2), God made everything in 6 literal days, and then rested on the seventh day. It was the pattern that God set for all creation and all time here on earth. God set the 7th day as implied day of rest, which God then made official for the descendants of Abraham, His chosen people that He calls: Israel. But, God never set it as a command for the Gentiles. With that said, let’s look at Romans 14 in the New Testament.

Romans 14 is one of key passages for Jews and Gentiles on the subject of the Sabbath. But let’s look at two from Jesus before we look at Romans 14.

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!” 3 But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? 6 Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. 7 But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:1-8)

This conversation is typical of how Jesus handled the subject. Yes, He did fulfill the law and customs, and yes He did follow most things that the Scribes and Pharisees had set… but He also did things that they thought were unacceptable to do on the Sabbath, because they had added onto His law to confuse it and to use it as a control tool, instead of a teaching tool.

In Mark 2, Jesus added this explanation detail: “27 And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28 Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27)

So, God did not intend for the law to be kept, but to be a tool to point us back to Him and seeking to please Him in thought, word, deed/action, and motive. This is further explained in Jesus’ teaching on the first and second greatest commandments.

29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

And in Matthew 22, Jesus added this explanation detail: “40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:40)


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