Keeping the Sabbath Holy

Luke 6: 1-5
1 Cor 4:6b-15 / Psa 145

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

God made the Sabbath subject to Him,
All laws on earth, below or above.
Jesus is Lord over everything,
And His only command is to love.

One Sabbath, while Jesus was going through a field of grain, His disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. Some Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and gave some to his companions?” Then He said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” (Luke 6:1-5)


The answer of Jesus to the question of the Pharisees as to why “they” were doing what was unlawful on the Sabbath was also a question: “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?” Jesus purposely stung them with this question because 1) It was a subtle way of inferring that the Pharisees were not really such experts of the Scriptures if they did not know the “unlawful act” that King David did; 2) Jesus knew how the Pharisees revered King David, and would justify his blatant and more sacrilegious act of eating the bread on the altar, and even giving it to his companions because they were hungry. When the Pharisees were stymied into silence by His question/answer, Jesus delivered the final blow: “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” Another subtle way of saying, “If I am lord of the Sabbath, then I am the Son of God, and definitely greater than King David.”

The Pharisees were so fixated on following their traditional rituals and man-made laws that the essence of God’s command which these laws and rituals were trying to put into practice was lost in their interpretation. The third commandment of God given to Moses was simple enough: “Keep holy the Sabbath day; no work must be done on the seventh day. . . your male and female slave should rest as you do” (Deut.5:12,14). But God did not forbid His people to prepare their meals on the Sabbath, or even to allow their animals to go hungry. One’s sustenance is certainly more important than following laws and rituals. All the laws that the Pharisees formulated with regard to observing the Sabbath had actually become burdensome to the Jews and contrary to God’s intention, were not giving them any rest.

How do we keep our seventh day (Sunday) holy? Most Christians believe that it is enough for us to go to Sunday mass and receive Holy Communion, and abstain from doing business or office work on this day. But God wants us to do more than this if we are to sanctify this day for the Lord. God is love, and He created everything for us as the expression of His love. To make this day special therefore is to spread God’s love to others – our family, primarily (from whom our six-day workweek keeps us away); and the least of God’s children, those who have less in life, like the poor and the sick, and even the inmates of rehabilitation centers. We can also apportion a spare time for ourselves. We do this in the early morning of Sunday, running together with friends who are as health-conscious. Afterwards, it’s mass with the family, then maybe a movie, or pastoral work. Whatever is restful for the soul.

Lord God, may we honor You not only during the Sabbath, but all the days of the week, by proclaiming Your Word to others, and being charitable in words and deeds. Amen.

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