"Christ as the Lord of the Sabbath"
For the week of May 2, 2015
At our Adventist institutions, Sabbath has a distinct feel. As the sun sets on Friday evening, a hush comes over the campus. Businesses are closed. Classes have ended. Students, teachers, and community alike breathe a collective sigh of relief. Sabbath has come. A blessed peace rests upon all.
Sabbath-keeping traditions vary from culture to culture, but in most places in the world you can find a group with whom to worship on the seventh day. And it's not uncommon to be invited for a fellowship meal at church or at someone's home following the service.
Jesus grew up in a Sabbath-keeping culture. The Jews kept the Sabbath. Jesus kept the Sabbath. And Jesus, "as His custom was...went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day" Luke 4:16.
In the synagogue Jesus was no mere spectator. He actively participated in the worship service. The accounts in Mark and Luke reveal that in the synagogue . . .
Jesus taught (as one having authority).
Jesus rebuked evil spirits.
Jesus read publicly from the Old Testament Scriptures prophecies concerning Himself.
Jesus was attacked in church and thrust out of the city where His fellow Sabbath-keepers intended to throw Him off a cliff (but He passed through the midst of them, unnoticed).
Jesus healed people in church, thus inciting the rage of the Sabbath-keeping Jewish leaders.
Jesus was interrogated by church leaders.
Jesus caused the multitudes to rejoice in His miracle-working power on the Sabbath day.
And because of this His fame spread everywhere.
One Sabbath Jesus was invited to dinner at a church leader's home. But the experience must have been something less than relaxing for Him, because, while there, he was being watched closely (Luke. 14:1).
Jesus had friends. And Jesus had enemies. His friends tended to be the lay people. His enemies tended to be the church leaders. They were constantly trying to trick Him into saying something upon which they could find cause for accusation. Behind it all, they were jealous of Jesus. The approbation given him by the crowds they longed to re-direct to themselves. "For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy" Mark 15:10.
Jesus challenged the conventional Sabbath-keeping notions of His day. While the Pharisees were meticulous observers of self-made Sabbath rules, they had forgotten the biblical definition of true Sabbath keeping found in Isaiah 58. He asked the Pharisees if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath day. While they were mulling over His question, Jesus healed a man with dropsy and sent him on his way.
Everywhere Jesus went He was loved--and hated--by Sabbath keepers.
Those plotting the death of Jesus hurried to accomplish their deed before the Sabbath began because the commandment had said, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy."
Jesus said, "The Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath" Luke 6:5.
How is it with us?
Is it possible to keep the seventh-day Sabbath – at least to all appearances – and yet hate the Lord of the Sabbath?
Today, as in the days of Christ, not all who make a pretense of being Sabbath keepers have surrendered their lives to Jesus. For some, Sabbath keeping is a form.
In our own church history can be traced the record of a similar rejection of Christ as that of the Jews. In Minneapolis and thereafter, it was [Sabbath-keeping] leadership of the day that resisted the most precious message of Jesus and His righteousness. The message of God's agape love that was ready to flow in a rich current throughout the earth was in a large degree rejected, and, as a result, we are still here.
But the time is not far distant when all those who keep the Sabbath will be brought to a test. That time of trial just ahead will reveal the motives in our hearts. Our faith will fail unless it is rooted and grounded in the self-sacrificing love of Jesus. It is an appreciation of His love alone that can change and make us true Sabbath keepers, as a revelation of the faith of Jesus.