Luke 13: 10-17
Pastor Chris Tweitmann
This week we observe our annual commemoration of our freedom as a nation. Each year we celebrate Independence Day so that we would not forget the circumstances out of which the United States was born. More than just some time off, a specific day is designated for us to stop and remember where we’ve come from, why we have what we do, and who we are as Americans. This periodic reminder of our heritage is intended to reinforce the ideas that undergird our way of life and to inspire all of us to hold dear and strengthen those principles through how we live each day.
God’s creation and mandate of the Sabbath derives from similar desires and expectations. A regular and intentional day of rest is so important to the Lord’s purpose for us, He has it recur every week, not merely once a year. We’ve learned this rhythm of the Sabbath, of resting one day in every seven, was instituted as a part of creation itself, serving as God’s metronome marking time for how we were designed not just to function but to flourish. We are to again and again abide and delight in the goodness of God in order to become all we were created to be.
Through the story of the nation of Israel, we discovered the Sabbath is humanity’s weekly Independence Day. As not just a rhythm but a rule of life, the Sabbath liberates us from our enslavement to any and all rhythms of life that run counter to God’s. Contrary to how the world tries to operate, how human history has evolved apart from the Lord, we do not have to work in order to earn or deserve rest. Rest is not a reward. Rest is a gift of grace. Rest is where we begin in order to do all to which the Lord has called us.
The gift of rest is a grace given to all humanity. Our rest is not built and therefore cannot be exercised on the work, the back of others. The justice of the Sabbath resides in the equality of its invitation and application to all. Whoever we think we are based on what we do, when we rest as God intended, we are one – humankind together, all the children of God.
It is with this foundation of understanding that we return to the gospels in order to witness how Jesus observed the Sabbath. By the time of Christ, rather than being exercised as a gift from God, the Sabbath had become a religious ritual complicated by additional human and not divine legalese. Jesus challenged this institution of the Sabbath regularly. In fact, Christ’s repeated, perceived violations of God’s prescribed day of rest was one of the reasons the religious leadership sought to put him to death.
So, what was distinctive and controversial about how Jesus kept the Sabbath?
Was Jesus guilty of doing work on a day designated for rest?
Or was Jesus reframing our perception of what the Sabbath is and what it is for?
The fireworks will still be going off as we enter the Gospel of Luke this Sunday. Come and see how Jesus’ practice of Sabbath keeping further shapes our understanding of what this sacred rest God has provided for everyone is for and why. Let us not just declare our freedom this weekend, together let us be set free by the One who is the Lord of the Sabbath.