“And he said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” - Mark 2:27
The Sabbath was made for man. Take that in for a second. The Sabbath, God’s designated day of Holy rest, was a gift for man.
Let’s go back to the beginning. God creates everything, including man, and then he rests - not because he needed to, but because he wanted to. He gave us that example. He worked hard and demonstrated how he wanted his final creation - man - to live. We are called to work, but we are also called to rest.
It goes beyond gentle invitation, it’s a command.
There can be too much of a good thing, or too literal of an interpretation.
That is what Jesus came up against - people taking God’s fourth commandment too far.
The Pharisees could not believe that Jesus' disciples were plucking head of grain - this small action was seen as a huge sin. Then they were angered when Jesus healed a man from his crippled hand. They would rather that poor man live in pain for another day than for him to be healed on the Sabbath.
Jesus teaches us, and the Pharisees, that we may break sabbath in order to take care of our needs or the needs of others.
We should embrace the gift, but not feel hindered by it in our attempt to live as God commands. We can cook and bathe and take care of our families. We can do what needs to be done to get out of the house and to church on Sunday mornings. And if God puts people in our path who need help on the sabbath, by all means help them!
Still, I would venture that most of us fall on the other side of this issue, where we almost never take a full twenty-four hours off. Can you even imagine what that would be like? There’s simply so much to do and so many distractions to be indulged. What even counts as “work” is up for debate - just look at the Pharisees, I’m sure they’d consider much of what we do on a normal Sunday as work.
So, enjoy the gift. Take this passage as your permission to rest or your permission to live, depending on where you currently fall. Remember, the Sabbath was made for you.
Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of rest. Help us to use it wisely. Thank you for setting aside an entire day for us to take a break and focus on You. Help us to rest when we can and serve you when we’re called. In Jesus’ name, Amen.