September 26, 2021
Exodus 16:23-30 and Mark 2:23-3:6
We traditionally understand the Sabbath as a day set aside for resting in God from the busyness of life. But as I have thought about Sabbath as a day of rest, I have also been thinking about the purpose of Sabbath. It is a gift given to us by God. But why? On the Sabbath day, Jesus is being trolled by the Pharisees, those keepers of God’s Law. He and his disciples were traipsing through a grain field and apparently a few of them were hungry. As they did the “work” of harvesting food, which was not allowed on the Sabbath according to the Law, the Pharisees confronted Jesus saying, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” Well, why indeed?! Jesus ignores them and then continues to heal the man with a withered hand in the synagogue. Again, doing work on the Sabbath. Jesus spends a great deal of his ministry
constantly humanizing how the Law and scripture should be understood. We like clear boundaries and easy answers, but much of Jesus’s ministry falls in the “in-between,” where mercy, compassion, justice, love, grace, and all the gifts from God, at the heart of Sabbath, have the most work to do. Because life is not clear, nor easy. Whose needs take priority: the needs of God’s Law or the needs of God’s people who are suffering? Did God create the Law with no room for the heart of the Law—God’s love for humankind? Don’t just observe the Sabbath, live the Sabbath! Make God’s priorities our priorities every day. Because human suffering doesn’t take a day off every week. Every moment we offer the gifts of Christ to someone who is suffering, they are lifted up, ever so slightly, into hope. Whatever suffering that is around you and is weighing on your heart cannot wait another day for hope. You are that hope! God’s priorities cannot wait one more day. Go, therefore, and live Sabbath.