“And he said to them, The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.’” (Mark 2:28)

Jesus proclaimed that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. How does our contemporary society interpret these words? They take Jesus to mean that Sabbath, Sunday is a day of rest, of doing stuff for me, to build me up, help me relax, maybe earn some extra income, spend time playing or watching sports. Contemporary society just does not see Church or worship as the essence of Sabbath rest. But it is!

What was Jesus saying here was something quite different. Jesus was stating that Sabbath observance was not about keeping rules and regulations created by man, but of worshipping God, Jesus was stating that He had come to do away with manmade religious rules, to enable people to follow and worship Him by faith in spirit and with love. The Sabbath was focused and centered on God. The Lord gave the Sabbath to enable human beings to fellowship with Him, to be renewed and strengthened by their interaction with Him, to recall that He is the source of life, health, and all their resources. 

Jesus’ pronouncement would, therefore, be quite unpopular with people today as it was with the religious rulers of the Jews of His day. Those rulers resented the fact that He presumed to have authority to interpret the Law. Who was He anyway? He was not a Pharisee or priest or rabbi. But Jesus had such authority for He is God. The old religious system of law only served to remind people of their sin and guilt but never did anything to abolish them. This is because the Law was designed to lead people to God to seek His help and mercy. The new system, the New Covenant would do away with sin because it is rooted in the love and obedience of Jesus who would take away the guilt and punishment for sin forever. Forgiveness was the main reason why Jesus had died on the cross, the central aspect of His ministry. He came to provide us freedom from the bondage of the Law by fulfilling it in Himself. For that reason He belongs as the central focus of life. Sabbath is not to be wasted on doing one’s own thing or relegating God to a lesser place in life. He is the center of life. All else is secondary.