NOT RULES BUT REST
"On a certain Sabbath Jesus was walking through a field of ripe grain. His disciples were pulling off heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands to get rid of the chaff, and eating them. Some Pharisees said, 'Why are you doing that, breaking a Sabbath rule?'
"But Jesus stood up for them.’Have you never read what David and those with him did when they were hungry? How he entered the sanctuary and ate fresh bread off the altar, bread that no one but priests were allowed to eat? He also handed it out to his companions.' Then He said, 'The Son of Man is no slave to the Sabbath; He's in charge.'" Luke 6:1-5 (The Message).
Always a contentious issue -- the Sabbath! This time it was the disciples who were in trouble with the Pharisees, not Jesus.
The Sabbath was God's gracious gift to His people and a reminder that He also rested after completing His work of creation.
When He had rescued them from slavery in Egypt, He reminded them of the Sabbath and built it into their marriage contract at Sinai, firstly as sign of His covenant with them, and secondly to provide the weekly cycle of six days of work to one day of rest to remind them that they were not machines but humans, and that rest was as necessary for them as their work.
So overzealous had their rabbis become over the years that they had turned the people into slaves of the Sabbath, hedging it up with so many petty rules that they had forgotten its real purpose. Instead of a day of rest, it had become a day of "don't do this; you are not allowed to do that," until they could hardly move for rules. And the Pharisees were the self-appointed "policemen “of their yoke!
Jesus was never a slave to their prescriptions or their opinions. His yoke was one of kindness and mercy as a mirror of the disposition of His Father. He had not come to reinforce their petty religious nonsensical traditions which had no value in either honouring the Father or helping the people to love and care for one another. He had come to show them what God is like and to teach them how God runs His realm.
They said, 'It's better to starve than break our rules, and our rules say that picking grain and rubbing it in your hands is reaping, and reaping is work.' Jesus said, 'My disciples are hungry and God is more concerned about that than about rules.' To illustrate, He drew their attention to what their own great king, David, did when he was hungry. He did what was even more glaringly wrong in their estimation. He actually broke a law of God, not even one of theirs, and nothing happened to him.
So then, what is the Sabbath and how does it apply to us now? Sabbath has significance in two ways -- a creation ordinance of God to provide us with a regular day of rest once a week, and a prophetic picture of the rest from our religious "labour" that God has provided. Jesus invites us into a permanent rest from trying to gain access to God by our own futile efforts.
No amount of trying or "doing" will ever be enough, but Jesus did it for us by getting rid of our sin and giving us access to the Father as His sons and daughters. Sabbath is no longer a rigid, religious, one-day-a-week rest, but a permanent and perpetual rest of faith in Christ that sets us free from observing laws in order to gain God's favour.
We are now God's sons and daughters, no longer lost and in a far country. We have come home to Father's house and can lively freely with Him as His children, not as slaves.
Have you come home to His rest?
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