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Compassion on the Sabbath

On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”

When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing (Luke 13:10-17, NIV).

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Categories: Health, jesus, Sabbath, Satan

Jesus Discusses the Sabbath

One Sabbath Day, some Pharisees confronted Jesus again. This time, they saw the disciples picking some grain as they walked through the fields. The disciples would dehusk the grain by rubbing the kernels in their hands, and then they would eat it raw.

Jesus certainly has His detractors. They watch Him closely and voice their opposition to His words and actions. Sometimes they even try to stump Him with questions or publicly humiliate Him. But Jesus refuses to be intimidated. For every charge they level, He has an answer. To the charge of blasphemy, He responds, “I have the authority to forgive sins.” To the charge that He befriends sinners and parties too much, He answers, “These are My people; I’ve come for them.” To the accusation that He breaks Sabbath law, He quips, “The Sabbath is a great servant, but it’s not your master. I am Lord of the Sabbath.” The crowds are amazed at the tense give-and-take between Jesus and His opponents. They seem to respect the Pharisees for their strict observance of God’s law, or perhaps they fear them because they don’t want to become targets of Pharisaic criticism. Yet the people are attracted to Jesus because of the peculiar moral authority He exhibits. As time goes on, Jesus crosses more and more lines drawn in the sand. The tension between Jesus and the Pharisees now becomes a major plotline of Luke’s story.

Pharisees: Don’t You know the sacred law says You can’t harvest and mill grain on the Sabbath Day—the day on which all work is forbidden? Why do You think You can ignore the sacred law?

The Pharisees think they have God all figured out. They claim to be experts in the sacred writings—the Hebrew Scriptures. But Jesus doesn’t fit in with their assumptions and expectations, and He doesn’t submit to their presumed expertise. So they are constantly criticizing Him and trying to trap Him in some obvious wrongdoing or unorthodoxy. But Jesus responds with questions instead of answers. He seems to decide that the best way to help them is by challenging them to think, to question their assumptions, to see things from a higher or deeper perspective. For example, they argue about what is permissible on the Sabbath Day (the seventh day, the day of rest); this is how Jesus gets them thinking about the deeper purpose of the Sabbath Day.

Jesus: Speaking of the sacred law, haven’t you ever read about the time when David and his companions were hungry? Don’t you remember how he went into the house of God and took the sacred bread of the presence—which, you may recall, only the priests were lawfully permitted to eat? Remember that he not only ate it, but he also gave it to his companions? Likewise, the Son of Man has authority over the Sabbath (vv. 1-5, The Voice).

Categories: jesus, luke, Sabbath

Sabbath Obedience

February 25, 2011 1 comment

In Luke 23:56, we read that Jesus’ followers rested on the Sabbath, even though they were prepared to put spices and perfumes on his crucified body.

I’ve been taught on several occasions that of the ten commandments, the only one which no longer applies is the command to rest on the Sabbath.

But our economy seems to be built upon building and selling more and more in less and less time.

Even teaching is now labeled a way to “win the future,” whatever that means!

I feel the external pressure to be always creating, always working, always improving.

I sense that, at least for me, developing the discipline of observing a weekly sabbath to honor God would be a positive step.

But I wonder what this will look like.

When I googled “sabbath” the most common discussion seemed to be arguments about what day of the week should be considered the Sabbath.  I don’t really care and don’t think it matters much.

What was helpful was the concept that Jews reckon a day from sundown to sundown.  I will define my sabbath rest from sundown on Saturday through sundown on Sunday.

My goal will be to finish all of my schoolwork during the day on Saturday.  Saturday evening through Sunday evening will be my rest from work (except for Sunday morning volunteering at church).  If I do procrastinate or have too much work to complete, then I’ll still have Sunday night for last-minute work.

I’ll experiment with this until spring break.  I don’t want a spiritual discipline to do nothing but make me feel guilty.  But I think that this may become an energizing pattern, not a negative one.  We’ll see…

Categories: luke, obedience, Sabbath
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