Wednesday

20 October 2021

Mark 2:23-28

“The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath” (v. 27)

Psalm 19

Background

In my home city when I was a child the swings in the public parks were chained up on a Sunday so they couldn’t be used. Truth to tell, I didn’t really take much note. It was just normal, and anyway my Sundays were too busy with morning church and afternoon Sunday school. Sunday was different from other days. It was special and our city council wanted to maintain that distinction. The problem was that, for many of our citizens, the regulations made the day worse rather than better.

The intention behind the Sabbath has always been good. God rested on the seventh day and so we should also be given the opportunity of rest, both for our own welfare and also to bring us back to our God-centred senses in worship. The principle first laid out in the fourth commandment has its place in God’s reign of love. Within the first five books of the Hebrew scriptures, which the Hebrew people knew as Torah, God’s Law, the commandment is spelled out further. All were to be offered a day of rest and none were to be exploited.

The problems arose when concern not to break God’s Law became so intense, and protective regulation so detailed, that the original purpose of the commandment was forgotten. The regulations made the day worse rather than better. Jesus not only questioned this approach, he claimed that he was Lord of the Sabbath. In doing so he wasn’t casting the whole concept of Sabbath aside. Jesus kept the Sabbath faithfully. Rather he saw that God’s gifts, of which the Sabbath is one, cannot be protected by regulation. They must be experienced and enjoyed. The key to such enjoyment is Jesus himself.

 Many in the Early Church, who lived in a setting where a day of Sabbath rest was not given to them, nevertheless met early on the Lord’s Day to worship and to experience that joy. It made their lives better.

 

To Ponder:

  • Sabbath is a time of rest and opportunity to come back to our spiritual senses through worship. Where do you find Sabbath?

Prayer

In your presence, Lord, I remember those who do not have the privilege of a day of rest. Watch over them and refresh them, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.


Bible notes author

The Revd Donald Ker

Donald Ker is a supernumerary minister originally from the Methodist Church in Ireland. He now lives in Solihull, near Birmingham. He has served as a circuit minister, as a university chaplain, as Senior Tutor in Edgehill Theological College and as Superintendent Minister at Belfast Central Mission. Donald was also General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Ireland for some years and its President in 2009/2010.

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