Day 11

Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath

from the reading plan

Matthew 12:1-50, Genesis 2:3, Acts 2:32-36

To be a Jew in the first century was to feel surrounded by creeping immorality. You were on an island in a tumultuous sea called the Roman Empire, and the water appeared to be rising rapidly. The way the Pharisees tried to build dams and keep the hostile sea from encroaching was through making rules to clarify what obedience to the Law looked like, especially around identity markers like Sabbath observance. It was a way to plant their flag as God’s people, faithful to traditional values in a hostile culture.

Maybe you’ve been in churches that had identity markers like this. For the Jewish people in the first century, Sabbath observance was a bigger identity marker than all of them.

Then along comes Jesus, seeming to totally disregard a thing that gave the nation of Israel their identity. If I’m being honest, I would probably have been just as angry with Jesus and His disciples as the Pharisees were. But while they thought Jesus was disregarding Sabbath observance in allowing His disciples to pick and eat grain and healing a man’s shriveled hand, He was doing something different. He wasn’t saying anything goes. He was redefining how to observe the Sabbath, centering it on Himself as its Lord.

What does it truly mean for Jesus to be Lord of the Sabbath? The stories of Matthew 12:1–30 answer this question. In Matthew 11:29, Jesus said, “Take up my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” So for Jesus to be Lord of the Sabbath, it means He fulfills its intended purpose: to give rest. Through Jesus, God is even more present than He was in the temple; He is a living, walking Sabbath.

As Lord of the Sabbath, Christ invites us to come to Him for rest. Sabbath to come to Him for rest. Because He has done this, we are free to accept the sustenance and the healing He provides.


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