Ijumaa, 5 Mei 2017

Jesus Rescues the Sabbath

“Jesus Rescues the Sabbath

The Sabbath was made holy at Creation. As something God planned for mankind, it had its origin when “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” Job 38:7. Earth was in harmony with heaven. “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good”; and He rested in the joy of His completed work. Genesis 1:31.

Because He had rested on the Sabbath, “God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it” (Genesis 2:3)—set it apart for a holy use. It was a memorial of the work of Creation, and as such, it is a sign of God’s power and love.

The Son of God created all things. “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” John 1:3. And since the Sabbath is a memorial of the work of Creation, it is an example of the love and power of Christ.

The Sabbath brings us into fellowship with the Creator. In the song of the bird, the sighing of the trees, and the music of the sea, we may still hear the voice of the One who talked with Adam in Eden. And as we see His power in nature, we find comfort, for the Word that created all things is also the One who speaks life to the soul. He “who commanded light to shine out of darkness ... has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6.

“Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:22. This is the message written in nature, which the Sabbath is designed to keep in memory. When the Lord told Israel to hallow His Sabbaths, He said, “They will be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.” Ezekiel 20:20.

The people of Israel knew about the Sabbath before they came to Sinai. On the way there, they kept the Sabbath. When some profaned it, the Lord reproved them, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws?” Exodus 16:28.

The Sabbath was not just for Israel, but for the world. Like the other commands of the Decalogue, it is a permanent obligation. Christ says concerning that law, “Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law.” Matthew 5:18. As long as the heavens and the earth endure, the Sabbath will continue as a sign of the Creator’s power. And when Eden will bloom on [126] earth again, everyone will honor God’s holy rest day. “‘From one Sabbath to another’” the inhabitants of the glorified new earth will go up “‘to worship before Me, says the Lord.’” Isaiah 66:23.

The Sign of True Conversion
But in order to keep the Sabbath holy, men and women must themselves be holy. Through faith they must receive the righteousness of Christ. When God gave the command to Israel, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8), the Lord also said to them, “You shall be holy men to Me.” Exodus 22:31.

As the Jews departed from God and failed to make the righteousness of Christ their own by faith, the Sabbath lost its significance to them. Satan worked to corrupt the Sabbath, because it is the sign of the power of Christ. The Jewish leaders surrounded God’s rest day with heavy requirements. In the days of Christ, Sabbath observance reflected the character of selfish and arbitrary people rather than the character of the loving heavenly Father. The rabbis virtually represented God as giving laws impossible to obey. They led the people to look on God as a tyrant and to think that the Sabbath made a person hardhearted and cruel. It was the work of Christ to clear away these misconceptions. Jesus did not follow the rabbis’ requirements but went straight forward, keeping the Sabbath according to the law of God.

A Sabbath Lesson
One Sabbath, as the Savior and His disciples passed through a field of ripening grain, the disciples began to gather the heads of grain and to eat the kernels after rubbing them in their hands. On any other day, this would have drawn no comment, for a person passing through a field, an orchard, or a vineyard was free to gather what he wanted to eat. See Deuteronomy 23:24, 25. But many believed that to do this on the Sabbath would profane the holy day. Gathering the grain was a kind of reaping, and rubbing it in the hands a kind of threshing.

The spies immediately complained to Jesus, “Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” Mark 2:24.

When accused of Sabbath breaking at Bethesda, Jesus defended Himself by affirming His Sonship to God, declaring that He worked in harmony with the Father. Now that the disciples were attacked, He mentioned Old Testament examples of things people did on the Sabbath when they were in the service of God.

The Savior’s answer to His accusers contained an implied rebuke for their ignorance of the Sacred Writings: “Have you not even read this, what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he went into the house of God, took and ate the showbread, ... which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat?” “And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.’” “Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? But I say to you that in this place [127] there is One greater than the temple.” “The Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Luke 6:3, 4; Mark 2:27; Matthew 12:5, 6, 8.

If it was right for David to satisfy his hunger by eating the bread set apart for a holy use, then it was right for the disciples to pluck grain on the Sabbath. Again, the priests in the temple had more work to do on the Sabbath than on other days. The same labor in secular business would be sinful, but they were performing rites that pointed to the redeeming power of Christ, and their labor was in harmony with the Sabbath.

The purpose of God’s work in this world is to redeem mankind. So whatever is necessary to do on the Sabbath to accomplish this work is in harmony with the Sabbath law. Jesus then finished His argument by declaring Himself the “Lord of the Sabbath”—One above all questions and all law. This infinite Judge acquitted the disciples of blame, appealing to the very laws they were accused of violating.

Jesus declared that in their blindness, His enemies had mistaken the purpose of the Sabbath. He said, “If you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.” Matthew 12:7. Their heartless rites could not make up for the lack of the integrity and tender love that characterize the true worshiper of God.

Jesus Deliberately Heals on the Sabbath
In themselves, sacrifices were of no value. They were a means, not an end. Their purpose was to direct people to the Savior, to bring them into harmony with God. The service of love is what God values. Without this, mere ceremony is an offense to Him. It is the same with the Sabbath. When the mind is absorbed with tiresome rites, the purpose of the Sabbath is defeated. Just observing it outwardly is a mockery.

In the synagogue on another Sabbath, Jesus saw a man who had a withered hand. The Pharisees watched, eager to see what He would do. The Savior did not hesitate to break down the wall of traditional requirements that barricaded the Sabbath.

Jesus told the suffering man to step forward and asked, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” Mark 3:4. It was a common saying among the Jews that failure to do good when one had opportunity was to do evil; to neglect to save life was to kill. So Jesus met the rabbis on their own ground. “But they kept silent. So when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.” Verses 4, 5.

When He was asked, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” Jesus answered, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:10-12. [128]

Greater Care Shown Animals
The spies did not dare to answer Christ. They knew He had spoken the truth. Rather than violate traditions, they would allow a man to suffer, while they would relieve a work animal because neglecting it would bring loss to the owner. They showed greater care for the animals than for human beings. This illustrates how all false religions work. They originate in our human desire to exalt ourselves above God, but they result in degrading us below the animals. Every false religion teaches its followers to be careless of human needs, sufferings, and rights. The gospel places a high value on humanity as the purchase of Christ’s blood, and it teaches us to regard human wants and distress with tenderness. See Isaiah 13:12.

The Pharisees were hunting Jesus’ life with bitter hatred, while He was saving life and bringing happiness to large numbers of people. Was it better to kill on the Sabbath, as they were planning to do, than to heal the suffering ones, as He had done?

In healing the withered hand, Jesus condemned the custom of the Jews and left the fourth commandment standing as God had given it. “It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath,” He declared. By sweeping away senseless restrictions, Christ honored the Sabbath, while those who complained about Him were dishonoring God’s holy day.

Those who hold that Christ abolished the law teach that He broke the Sabbath and justified His disciples in doing the same. In this way, they are taking the same position as did the disapproving Jews. In doing so, they contradict Christ Himself, who declared, “I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” John 15:10. Neither the Savior nor His followers broke the Sabbath. Looking at a nation of witnesses who were trying to find some way to condemn Him, He could say unchallenged, “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” John 8:46.

“The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” Jesus said. God gave the Ten Commandments, including the Sabbath, to His people as a blessing. See Deuteronomy 6:24. Of all who keep “from defiling the Sabbath,” the Lord declares, “Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer.” Isaiah 56:6, 7.

“The Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” For “all things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” John 1:3. Since Christ made everything, He made the Sabbath. He is the One who set it apart as a memorial of Creation. It points to Him as both Creator and Sanctifier. It declares that He who created all things is the Head of the church and that by His power we are reconciled to God. He said, “I gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them,” or makes them holy. Ezekiel 20:12. The Sabbath is a sign of Christ’s power to make us holy. And He has given it to all whom He makes holy, as a sign of His sanctifying power.

To all who receive the Sabbath as a sign of Christ’s creative and [129]

redeeming power, it will be a delight. See Isaiah 58:13, 14. Seeing Christ in it, they delight themselves in Him. While it reminds us of the lost peace of Eden, it also tells us of peace restored through the Savior. And every object in nature repeats His invitation, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. [130]”

All excerpts from

Humble Hero
by Ellen G. White

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