Monday 22 January 2018

Bible Book:

“Then he said to them, ‘The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.’” (v. 5)

Luke 6:1-11 Monday 22 January 2018

Psalm: Psalm 5:1-8


Luke’s version of this story does not appear in our lectionary (list of passages read in church on Sunday) at all. It is represented there by the parallels in the Gospels of Matthew (Matthew 12:1-14) and Mark (Mark 2:23 – 3:6). Central to this story is the way Jesus comes across as a revisionist, ready and willing to strike down regulations for life that had been foundational for the people of Judea for centuries. Jesus was willing to think outside the box, and weigh other sources of guidance and instruction against the most narrow readings of the law.

In this passage, we encounter two related issues. What links them is the law of Shabbat, the seventh day of rest (Exodus 20:8-11). Their place right there in the Book of Origins (Genesis) (Genesis 2:2-3) sets them somewhat apart from the numerous other requirements of the law. We mustn’t ignore, however, the central thrust of Jesus’ own approach that the original declaration of Shabbat set aside the Sabbath day less as an imposition by God on us and viewed it as a gift from God to us. It was also a warning – if the sum total of our life is simply the product of our labour, and we fail to receive and cherish that Shabbat gift, then we, and the society of which we are a part, are the losers; the entire way in which we evaluate the hardships and opportunities of life will be distorted.

Jesus’ approach takes us back to the very origins of Shabbat, as a reminder that God’s design for humanity included a requirement that we attend to rest, recreation, relationships and reflection as well as the demands of business, work, the peremptory text message or the demanding email. The gift of Shabbat calls us back to the one fundamental certainty, that God loves all that God has made, including us, including our taskmasters, including all those that press for our attention. Ultimately all of that is due to God, and in all of that we can find – and respond to – God. 

To Ponder

  • God asks of us no gift beyond our loving attention. But do you have the time? If not, how might you find the opportunity for loving attention?
  • How do you find the gift of Shabbat? Is it a delight, a chore, an interference with the rhythm of daily busy-ness, or what?
  • God loves everything that God made. How can you align your loving with God’s loving?
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