Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Sabbath is for Man, Not Man for the Sabbath
God gave the people of Israel the Sabbath after they came out of Egypt. In Exodus it is written: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work.” (Ex.20.8-10)
And in the book of Nehemiah it is written: “Your Holy Sabbath you made known to them.” (Neh .9.14). So the Sabbath was cherished by the Jews as a sacred institution. The Sabbath was a special sign between Israel and God. (Ex.31:12-17)
When Jesus began openly to violate the Sabbath traditions, it was like declaring war against the religious establishment. So, the objections of the Pharisees seem well grounded. But, then again, so does the argument put forth by Jesus. Jesus’ response was: if a hungry king and his men were permitted to eat the holy bread from the tabernacle (1 Sam. 21:1–6), then it was right for the Lord of the Sabbath to permit His men to eat the grain from the fields. God is surely more concerned with meeting the needs of people than He is with protecting religious tradition.
The Pharisees seemed to have the letter of the law on their side, but Jesus had the spirit of the law on his side. The Pharisees, although they may have been well intended, had their priorities confused. Jesus used the action of David to show that the Pharisees’ narrow interpretation of the Law blurred God’s intention. The spirit of the Law in respect to human need took priority over its ceremonial regulations.
This passage confronts us with certain truths:
Whenever men forget the love, forgiveness, service and the mercy that are at the heart of religion and replace them by the performance of rules and regulations, religion is in decline. Works of necessity and mercy are quite legal on the Sabbath. If ever the performance of a man’s religion stops him from helping someone who is in need, his religion is not religion at all
Prayer: Gracious God, the Lord of the Sabbath, guide us by your spirit to respond to the needs of our brethren just as you did. May your Spirit of love and mercy invade our hearts that we may overflow with them so that we may find joy in serving with our heart , mind and soul. Amen.
Thought for the day: Let love and not law be the final arbiter
Rev. George Cherian, Youth Chaplain, Midwest Region.