Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath

In college interpreting the Sabbath was always a hot topic. Sure we all believed it was in the Bible and that rest was designed for us by God, but were we really supposed to rest from everything on Sunday? If you said that the Sabbath on Sunday was law for today, people cried “legalist!” If you believed the primary issue was taking rest, and the Sabbath was really a day of your choosing, you were labeled a libertine.

I’ve gone back and forth over the years. But one thing I know for certain is that God has designed us for rest, as I’ve already talked about. To not take a Sabbath rest implies a false understanding that we can do everything, even be God-like. A couple of weeks ago a good friend of ours preached for our pastor while he was out of town. Preaching on Luke 6:1-16, he showed how Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. I have heard that said often throughout my years as a believer, but it really came to life for me when he preached on it that Sunday. If you haven’t read this passage in a while I encourage you to go and read it again. It is breathtaking. Along with declaring his lordship over the Sabbath, he is showing his tender mercy towards lost sinners by healing this man’s withered hand, and on the Sabbath!

Aaron said something that really stayed with me, and helped put the Sabbath in perspective. He said, “the Sabbath is something that God ordained in creation—it’s found in his nature and in the Ten Commandments.” When God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh he was saying something very profound about his nature and how he wants us to live, and then again in establishing the Ten Commandments. We don’t get to pick which commandments to obey. They were all given to us for our good.

When I fail to take a Sabbath rest, and more importantly rest in Christ (who is himself Lord of the Sabbath), I am saying far more about my view of God than I realize. When I spend all Sunday being busy with everything but focusing my heart on Christ, reflecting on the finished week, and enjoying the life he has given me, I am neglecting a very important aspect of what it means to be created in the image of God.

Aaron said that not observing the Sabbath shows us that other things have authority in our lives. It’s not that Christ is laying a heavy hand on us, forcing us to rest in him. Rather the fact that I don’t feel the pull to rest in him more strongly is a sad commentary on my own spiritual condition.

So regardless of where you stand on the Sabbath being strictly on Sunday or another day of the week, the truth remains—we need a Sabbath rest. But more importantly, we need the ultimate rest found only in Jesus Christ who is Lord of the Sabbath and Lord of all.