Sabbath Day for Rest

Luke 6: 1-5
Col 1: 21-23 / Psa 54

The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.
(Luke 6:5)

Grant us the wisdom, Lord to trust
Your Sabbath law, for You know best
What’s good for us, and so we must
Honor You with one day of rest.

One day, while Jesus was passing through a field of grain on a Sabbath, His disciples were picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating the grain. Some Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him, how he entered the house of God, and took and ate the consecrated bread which is not lawful for any to eat except the priests alone, and gave it to his companions?” Then He said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Luke 6: 1-5)

Reflection

Although Jesus was not the one guilty of the charge of violating the Sabbath (it was His disciples who were picking and eating the grains), He used the Pharisees’ charge by citing the case of King David, who appeared to have committed a greater violation by eating the consecrated bread which only the temple priests were allowed to eat. By telling His accusers that “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath,” He was in effect saying that if King David could break the law, all the more He could set aside the Sabbath because He was above it. Indirectly Jesus was saying He was God because only God could break the Sabbath law.

Jesus also pointed out to the proud Pharisees their ignorance of scriptures when He asked them, “”Have you not read what David did. . .?” By referring to Himself as the Son of Man, Jesus was identifying Himself with the prophet Ezekiel, who also assumed this title, and prophesied against the sins of Israel thus: a “rebellious house; they have eyes to see but do not see, and ears to hear but do not hear” (Ezek.12:2). Like their ancestors, the Jews had made the Sabbath and their man-made laws their idols, and had become blind and deaf to the One true God in their midst.

God made the Sabbath for two important purposes: For man to set aside a special day for the Lord, to celebrate His kindness and the bounty and beauty of his creation; and for man to take a rest (a full day’s rest) from all his labors. The Sabbath is the only day that we refrain from work so that we can give a special time for God, for family, and for ourselves. After all, we also need to recharge our batteries once a week, otherwise we will end up with a neurotic kind of existence. God knows what we need far better than we know ourselves, and if we obey His law and go to Him periodically for rest and meditation, we will be able to lead a more fulfilling and productive life.

The Sabbath was meant to be a day of rest, and Jesus was its embodiment. When He said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28), Jesus was telling His disciples and us that He was the fulfillment of the Sabbath, and still is our Sabbath, because it is only in Jesus that we find true rest. Whenever we fail to “keep holy the Sabbath day” (going to Sunday mass) for some reason, we are missing not only the essence of this ‘law’, but our Lord Jesus Himself.

Lord, please help us to discern the chaff from the grain. Sometimes we are more concerned about rituals and regulations which bear no relation to the true meaning of compassion, understanding and mercy. Help us to be “poor in spirit”, and to humbly accept the things that we cannot understand. Make us realize that it is better to be forgiving than to be right, and that charity weighs far more than justice. Help us to live the real meaning of love in Christ Jesus, Who is our Savior and our rest. Amen.

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