At the time of Jesus's life, the Jewish leaders considered the careful keeping of the Sabbath to be one of the most important distinguishing marks of God’s people. For that reason, over time the Jewish leaders had developed an extensive list of rules about how to keep the Sabbath, ranging from how many knots you could tie on the Sabbath, to the degree of help you could provide someone in need. For that reason, when Jesus came along and began blatantly breaking many of these Sabbath rules, the Jewish leaders were outraged. Did Jesus not care about the Sabbath? Did he think he could disregard centuries of tradition? Who did he think he was?
Jesus told them who he thought he was: “The Lord of the Sabbath” (Luke 6:5). Jesus’ behavior was not a dismissal of the Sabbath - to the contrary! Jesus was proclaiming and demonstrating that he actually was the fulfillment of the Sabbath, embodying in his own person what the Sabbath had always been about: the deep rest of God. We’ll spend time this Sunday exploring what this Sabbath rest is all about, why we need it, and how Jesus gives us the deep rest for which all our souls long.
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Luke 6: 1-11
One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. 2 Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
3 Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” 5 Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
6 On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. 7 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. 8 But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there.
9 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”
10 He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 11 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.