Throw Out the Sabbath
She asked me a question: should we throw out the Sabbath? Jesus doodled in the sand before a woman convicted of adultery. He enlightened them, when they asked Him whose money it was; to whom they should pay taxes. Tricky legal questions. I smiled. Thanks. “The answer is yes. Can I go now?”
“But okay … go on … should we keep the Sabbath?”
She waited for an answer.
I was not going to walk away from this one.
“Originally the Sabbath was on a Saturday.” She continued.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Now it isn’t. Why? Shouldn’t it be?”
Machine-gun questions. I ducked. Looking for an escape.
I started sinking deeper and deeper. Quicksand sucked at my boots. It was up to my knees.
Quick, throw me a lifeline: The Gospels. What did Jesus say?
Jesus said, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be,” (Mt. 6:21).
Exactly. That’s the answer.
She looked at me, quizzically.
Flashback: the woman caught in adultery, (Jn. 8:6). Jesus speaks to a Samaritan at the well, and a woman to boot –– scandalous, (Jn. 4:7-9). Eats with sinners and prostitutes –– unheard off.
The teachers of the law were beside themselves.
Jesus worked on the Sabbath: he healed someone (Mt. 12:10-12); ate something (Mt. 12:1-2); forgave people. Then asked a man to get up and carry His mat, (John 5:8-10).
Jogging on the Sabbath
It is the Sabbath, the man is now happily jogging––first time in his life––down the street with his mat under his arm. Most probably he is singing and praising God. Waving his arms around, laughing. Look at me, he shouts. And on the Sabbath. Stop him.
Jesus shattered many preconceptions – in the blink of an eye – of what the Sabbath is. What about the man who can now see. Healed on the Sabbath. He went into the synagogue to tell the priests. They weren’t at all happy. (Mt. 9:1-41).
From Monday to Friday, sometimes Saturday, we work. It’s hard work, tiring, whatever work you do: physical or mental. You need a rest. I know I do. Something different, a change; something to refresh me. Make me ready––if at all possible––for Monday morning, when I yawn and drag myself out of bed.
There Are Only Two Commandments
Jesus said there are only two commandments: to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and to love your neighbour as yourself. In these, He continued, is the whole essence of the law. The prophets, He said, tried to explain this for ages, till they were blue in the face. Their voices hoarse with shouting, trying to get the message across; now I am showing you .
Simply put: Jesus said, if you love the Lord God with all your heart then you would want to please Him, to follow Him, to spend time with Him, to worship Him. If you loved your neighbour as yourself, then you would want to enjoy time with them, to go to their homes, have a meal, a party, chit-chat, whatever.
During our work-time we cannot spend hours worshipping God, or nipping out for a meal, or relax and read the papers, iPad, or Tablet, or run in the park with the kids. During the week we can do nothing much more than work and cram everything into the available time.
Surprise, God knew all this before the world began, it’s not new. We need rest, a time of recovery, of renewing. Sabbath is not just for Christians, or Jews for that matter: it is for everyone. On Sunday Christians focus on God, but our secular, physical bodies and minds still need the Sabbath.
Sabbath is on Sunday. That is the day when the churches are open. For some it may be a different day; that’s okay. We all have different forms of entertainment. It may be that we go to a football match, or go shopping, or walking, cycling. Christians sometimes feel the conflict between these activities and attending church.
Our children may be part of a team that competes or performs on Sunday. We have to make choices. Consider priorities. Examine which is the greater love in our lives. Make sacrifices. Not everything can be accommodated without sacrifice. It depends on where our heart is.
She watched me. I adjusted from my dazed expression, refocussed, and entered back into the conversation.
“So … what’s the answer then?” She asked.
“Yes,” I replied
“Should we put God first?” I continued.
“Yes,” she said.
Jesus said, ‘God gave the Sabbath for man, and not man for the Sabbath,’ (Mark 2:27).
“God gave us the Sabbath because we need it. To give us rest from our daily work; to recharge our batteries. To spend quality time with Him, and our families and friends; to rejuvenate us. The Sabbath is good for us.”
“What does your heart say?”
She looked at me.
“What are your desires? Are they worldly, or spiritual?”
“As a Christian I would find it ambiguous should I not want to guard jealously and treasure a day for worshipping God. It is my heart’s desire.
Jesus was not specifically talking about the Sabbath when He said those words, but about our whole lives.
“The Sabbath fulfils the two great commandments: to love God by putting a day aside to honour Him in praise and worship: and to love our neighbours, finding time to be with friends and family.
“We shouldn’t throw out the Sabbath. We should desire to spend a day, special for God. We do this, not because we have to because the law says so, but because we want to.”
She understood. I dragged myself out of the quicksand, poured sand from my boots, shook her hand, and headed off down the beach.