Our Bible stories this week are where Jesus and His Disciples were walking through a wheat field one Sabbath day. (The Sabbath is equivalent to our Sunday.) The Disciples were hungry, so they picked some grains of wheat to eat as they went along. Some Pharisees (the religious leaders back then) saw them and said the Disciples were breaking the Law about working on the Sabbath. Another time, Jesus was in the temple and saw a man with a deformed hand. Jesus felt compassion for the man and healed his hand. Again, the Pharisees said Jesus was breaking the Law by working on the Sabbath. You can read both in Mark 2: 23 through Mark 3: 6.
Laws and rules are meant to help us and protect us, but sometimes (even today) we can get carried away with making rules and regulations about everything. And yes, the fourth of the Ten Commandments is: “Remember the Sabbath by keeping it holy.” But the Pharisees of Jesus’ believed that the most important thing of all was keeping the Laws and had gone way beyond God’s intended meaning of this commandment. When God finished creating the world in six days, He rested on the seventh day – the Sabbath. (You would be tired too if you created the whole earth, plants, animals, and humans!) So God’s real purpose for us in that rule was to take one day a week to rest from our work and spend time with Him.
The Pharisees had put their own meaning to it and said it was sinful to do basically about anything on that day. One couldn’t cook or build a fire or even write/erase two or more letters of the alphabet! Their version of the Sabbath made life more difficult not more restful and joyful.
This made Jesus angry, so He asked them then if it was even unlawful to do good on this day. He then spoke up and told the Pharisees that people were not made for the good of the Sabbath, but that the Sabbath was meant for the good of the people. (Verse 27) You see God wants us all to take one day where we can relax and take time to worship Him. Many people spend time with God by going to church on Sunday, reading the Bible, and praying. Those are all good activities for sure. We all also need a break from working so hard during the week. Nowadays, with our society that isn’t always possible to do on Sundays, but there should be one day when we take time for God and rest each week. God wants our worship and knows we need to spend time with Him and away from “the daily grind.” He needed to rest and relax and so do we! He meant that commandment for our own good.
So let’s remember to take time to go to church and be with God. Let’s remember to take some time off from our usual work – to relax and recuperate from what we do every other day. It will be good for us health wise and please God too! And remember as well, it is ALWAYS the right time to do good and help others!
Let’s say our prayer. Father God, You know what we need even better than we do, and You made rules to only help us – never hurt us. Thank You for giving us one day each week to take time off from our usual activities and spend time with You. We love You and know You love us too! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Ann Moody is pastor of Wilkesville First Presbyterian Church.