Missio on Jesus and the Sabbath: Rest and Reliance

The weeks are busy. I feel as though I am constantly rushing through work and running to the next event. I am always looking at the clock to determine how best to squeeze in another meeting, phone call or errand. It is as though as soon as my head hits the pillow to sleep my alarm starts buzzing in the sound of a new day. In my business Sabbath rest seems to be an unreachable goal and my reliance on God can be taken for granted, overlooked.

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When I default to self-reliance I can become blind to that reality that all my work and efforts belong to God. Before the fall there was no sense that the work man did with his hands was “secular work” or “work separate from God’s work.” Everything was known as holy, all endeavors were God’s endeavors. But after the fall, man was separated from God. Because of this separation, we as humans often fall into the trap of self-worth, self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

In the Old Testament God commands the Israelites to keep the Sabbath. God did not create Sabbath because he thinks we are weak and need a break (though we are and we do). No, God created Sabbath so that we, his people, would remember that all that we have and are comes from God. The Sabbath helps us realize that our work cannot be separated from God because it is God who makes all things work. There is not and never was a divide between the secular and sacred – the Sabbath reminds us of that.

In the book of Matthew we find the Pharisees seeking to accuse Jesus by questioning what is lawful to do on the Sabbath. In their hearts they condemn him for not following their own reading of the Law. Jesus’ response is telling of a new order that he proclaims. He states, “I tell you something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

There is a seeming tension between the commands of God to keep the Sabbath and Jesus’ action in the New Testament. So what is Jesus’ purpose in breaking with the Pharisees’ interpretation of the Sabbath to eat with his hungry disciples and heal those who are sick? Jesus is re-ordering the way we think about Sabbath. Jesus is our Sabbath – in Christ is where we find our true Sabbath rest.

Our weeks will be busy – full of work, caring for family, and serving the church and our community. While it is wise and should be done, just setting aside one day and taking a literal Sabbath once a week is not all God requires of us. God requires something greater from us – that in each moment of every day we would be surrendering our work and our lives to God as we rest in the perfect Sabbath: Jesus Christ.

 

Baylee Molloy is a graduate of the 2015-2016 Capital Fellows Program.

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