Affirming the Priority of People

KEY VERSE: “He [Jesus] said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath: therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.” —Mark 2:27,28


THE SABBATH WAS a principal feature of the Law that God gave to Israel. In fact, it was the fourth of the Ten Commandments, where we read: “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath Day, and hallowed it.”—Exod. 20:8-11

Paul reminded us that God rested from his work on the seventh day of creation, leaving the remaining work entirely for Jesus to finish in that final creative day. (Heb. 4:4) It is for this reason that Jesus stated that he was “Lord also of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:28) While no command was given by Jesus to the apostles or the church respecting the Sabbath Day, it is good that one day in the week is generally observed as a day of rest. Sabbath Day signifies ‘rest day’. Indeed, to a Christian, every day is Sabbath, and should be used as holy to the Lord.

Paul said, “We who believe do enter into rest.” (Heb. 4:3) God’s consecrated people now rest as God rests: in faith, hope, and trust that Jesus will eventually, in his kingdom, deliver the poor, groaning creation out from under the bondage of corruption, bringing all the willing and obedient of mankind into their own glorious Sabbath rest—the liberty of the sons of God.

Our selected scripture relates two accounts of Jesus’ work on the Sabbath, each of which the Pharisees viewed as being unlawful, and which brought their stinging rebuke upon him. These two incidents, however, indicate that Jesus placed response to human need of much greater importance than rigid observance of the Pharisaic interpretation of the Law concerning the Sabbath.

The first of these describes how Jesus and his hungering disciples passed through a cornfield on the Sabbath, and his disciples began to pluck ears of corn. They bore no guilt of theft here, for the Law provided that a passerby could help himself to a few handfuls of grain. (Deut. 23:25) But the charge was violation of the Sabbath by working: harvesting or plucking grain; and threshing, by rubbing the kernels together; and winnowing, or blowing the chaff away.

In the other account, Jesus himself is accused of breaking the Sabbath. It tells that he entered the synagogue—again on the Sabbath—where there was a man with a withered hand. The Pharisees watched Jesus closely to see whether he would heal the man, in order that they might accuse him. On this occasion Jesus saw their hardness of heart, and asked them, “Is it lawful to heal [do good] on the Sabbath Days?” (Matt. 12:10) But they had no reply.

Jesus performed many of his miracles on the Sabbath Day. No doubt this was to emphasize the fact that in the antitypical Sabbath—the thousand-year day of his kingdom—all mankind will have the opportunity to recover from sin and sickness, sorrow and pain, and to be brought to the full perfection of human nature—to all that was lost in Adam and redeemed at Calvary. The Law was not made to hinder any good work, but to benefit the people.

Truly, the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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