The Gift of Sabbath

One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” 25And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? 26He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” 27Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; 28so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”Mark 2:23-28

Sabbath is an important subject in scripture. In Genesis chapter one God rests after creation is finished. Then in Exodus the sabbath shows up again as one of the commandments. The commandment says, “Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy.”

In God’s wisdom, we have been given a gift. God has declared that we need a rest from our labors and activity. We have seven days in a week, six days to work and get stuff done, and one day to rest, the sabbath.

In the reading from Mark, Jesus and his disciples were confronted by religious authorities and accused of working on the sabbath day. What work did they do? They plucked heads of grain, that is considered work. But they weren’t harvesting, they were eating because they were hungry.

Observing the sabbath can be used as a judgment against others. One day on the way to worship many years ago, I observed a man in the ditch cleaning up garbage. I thought to myself, couldn’t he do that tomorrow? Today is the sabbath and he could be in worship.

I reminded myself of those religious leaders condemning Jesus for not observing the sabbath as it should be. Forgetting that God cares about the hungry eating; God cares about us cleaning up the environment; and God loves us more then the letter of the law.

Sabbath is a gift. It is a time apart from the “to do list” of life; it grounds us in something life-giving; it is something we can do with our family and friends; Sabbath is a gift.

Pastor Dave Sorenson