Jesus asked the law experts and the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But they kept silent. He took the man, healed him, and sent him away. And to them, he said, “Which of you whose son or ox falls into a well, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?”Luke 14:3-5
In the gospels, not much riled the religious leaders more than Jesus healing on the Sabbath. Work! they proclaimed. It is unlawful!
Now, it is true, that when God gave the Law to Moses, he forbade work on the Sabbath. The day was meant to be a day of rest, the other six days could be days of labor. Yet, God’s purpose was not to nitpick every detail of a person’s day, unlike what the Pharisees and teachers of the Law did–in which they measured the boundary of work/non-work down to the very inch of how far you walked.
The legalistic rules religious leaders imposed on top of the Sabbath became, themselves, a burden from which people needed rest. So, when Jesus walked the earth, he took the added rules and turned them on their head. The do not of the Sabbath command was a protective boundary so that God’s people could experience his mercy.
Just as Jesus taught elsewhere: Man is not made for the Sabbath but the Sabbath for man.
Though some people tend toward laziness, it seems a greater struggle is the tendency to overwork. Instead of reordering our lives and our fiances to handle working less, we pile more work on what we do in order to support everything else. We wear out. We break. We’re in need of mercy.
The reality of Sabbath mercy in Luke came in the form of healing. If someone or something was in danger on the Sabbath, it was not work to rescue. You did not have to forgo saving another from harm until the next day. Mercy is a Sabbath act.
So, it must be for our lives as well. We must rest in mercy, spend that time away from work and focused on God. It is in such mercies that we find spiritual healing.
This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2020 Bible Reading Calendar. All Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible.