The Purpose of the Sabbath

Mark 2: 23-28
1 Sm 16:1-13/ Psa 89

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
(Mark 2:27-28)

On Sunday, find rest for your soul,
By meditating on God’s graces;
On this day let’s make our week whole
By off’ring HIM prayers and praises.

One Sabbath, Jesus was going through a field of grain, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2: 23-28)

Reflection

The Pharisees were more concerned with the observance of external rituals and laws, but our Lord emphasized the natural fulfillment of human needs. Instead of giving a lawful answer to their question why His disciples were doing something unlawful on the Sabbath, Jesus questioned their knowledge about Scripture (Have you never read what David did…?) It was about these religious officials in Jesus’ time that Isaiah wrote, “Yes, you fast but end up quarreling, striking each other with wicked blows. Fasting as you do will not make your voice heard on high.” (Isa.58:4) They were so dulled by their prejudice to realize that if Jesus could exercise authority over demons, illness, and sin, then He certainly had authority over the Sabbath law.

God instituted the Sabbath not as a yoke to burden man, but to compel him to take a rest for his physical, spiritual and emotional renewal. The Sabbath was intended to benefit man’s personal well being, and at the same time remove him for a day from his labors so that he could contribute to other endeavors beneficial to others.

The observance of the Sabbath, or Sunday should not be out of obligation, but out of love and devotion. Last Sunday (the 15th) was particularly special for most of us because it was the feast of the Sto. Niño. But peace and meditation were certainly not the order of the day as the neighboring village right across our wall organized wild dancing in their streets with drums blaring and an emcee screaming over the microphone from early dawn till the afternoon. We were only saved from losing our Christian disposition when we were invited by an elder couple in our community to their own village’s more peaceful fiesta celebration for lunch. In the company of other members of our community, we enjoyed the sumptuous feast and warm fellowship, and came home grateful that we had found rest in God’s abounding love.

God never wearies in all His work, and did not really rest on the seventh day. He merely paused to admire the beauty of His creation. In the same way, He wants us to set aside a day when we can thank Him fully for all our blessings by expressing our love to others. It is also the day when we can reflect on His Word, and be fully reinvigorated by His Holy Spirit in a quiet time and place with prayer and worship.

Help us, dear God to devote one day of the week to contemplate on Your Word, and to bring others to You through prayers and good works. Amen.

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