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Sabbath for people
Bible Passage
This content is part of a series Bright Morning Reflections, in topic 2024 & books 1 Samuel, Deuteronomy, Exodus, Genesis, ISAIAH, Mark.

Sabbath for people

  • Rev. Bright Mawuena Nfodzo
Date preached

23 Jesus happened to be going through the grain fields on a Sabbath. As they made their way, his disciples began picking the heads of grain.

24 The Pharisees asked him, “Look! Why are they doing what is not lawful on Sabbath days?”

25 He asked them, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need?

26 How was it that he went into the House of God during the lifetime of Abiathar the high priest and ate the Bread of the Presence, which was not lawful for anyone but the priests to eat, and gave some of it to his companions?”

27 Then he told them, “The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath.

28 Therefore, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

The 4th of the 10 commandments requires that people must rest on the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:12-15).

In the fourth commandment, God showed that people could combine an attitude of reverence towards Him with an attitude of care for their own needs and those of other fellow human beings. The weekly Sabbath encouraged people to worship God since the day was set apart for Him as holy, but at the same time, it benefited them by making sure they had adequate rest from their regular work. The Sabbath was intended to give rest to all slaves from overworking themselves.

So the beginning of time, God rested on the 7th day after He had made everything (Genesis 2:2-3). The Israelites were slaves in Egypt but God gave rest to them when He freed them from their hard work there (Deuteronomy 5:14). Those were the reasons for the Sabbath day. The Hebrew word sabbath means rest.

On their way from Egypt, the Israelites remembered the Sabbath day. They rested and they did not collect food on that day (Exodus 16:23-29). So the Sabbath day should allow everyone to rest from their normal work. Animals, slaves, and strangers who had come to stay in Israel should all enjoy rest on the Sabbath. They would have freedom from work on that day.

Jesus said that God made the Sabbath for man’s benefit (Mark 2:27). Isaiah spoke about the Sabbath as a delight (Isaiah 58:13). The Sabbath became a sign that God had made a special promise to the Israelites. He made those promises at Mount Sinai (Exodus 31:17).

Here in our text, when the Pharisees criticized Jesus’ disciples for picking a few pieces of corn to eat on the Sabbath, Jesus defended His disciples by referring to an example from the Old Testament. When David and his men were very hungry and urgently needed food, they were rightly allowed to eat the holy bread of the Tabernacle, which normally only priests were allowed to eat ( 1 Sam 21:1-6).

Those priests did the right thing. They helped the hungry men. God wanted to help poor people. He made His law so that poor people would not have to work every day.

The example shows that in a case of necessity, the legal requirement of the law may be overruled. Life is more important than ritual. Exercising mercy is more important than offering sacrifices. Jesus is more important than the temple. People are more important than the Sabbath.

The Sabbath was given for people’s benefit, not for their discomfort; and since Jesus is the messianic Son of man, He has authority to decide how the Sabbath can best be used.

🔷 The Sabbath must necessarily break the chains of slavery and allow people to be given rest

🔷 Laws must help people to grow but not suppress them

🔷 We must find time to rest so that we can renew our strength and be revitalized. We owe ourselves the duty of care.

💥 Pray for God’s guidance to fully utilize Sabbath to His glory
💥 Pray for those in bondage

The Sabbath is for rest, worship, and total support for the vulnerable. It must guide the Christian to reflect on his/her duty to God and fellow human beings.

In series Bright Morning Reflections