THE SABBATH – INTRODUCTION
Across the ages there have been many attempts by man to reach out to a higher sphere beyond the visible world. As a result, man devised gods that would look after particular needs. The end game produced so many gods that it was difficult to keep track of who was who and what did who do. The ancients had gods for planting, harvesting, making rain and almost any need one can imagine. Then along came Abram, and God spoke to him and pointed out that there is only one God—and it was Him, Jehovah—always was and always will be! To those who practiced paganism, it was very difficult to grasp since people had so many gods to call upon in time of need.
And so, the Israelites believed in a monotheistic God and stood apart from the many pagan sects and beliefs. With the guidance of Moses and Aaron, the Israelites obtained a long series of rules of worship, conduct, hygiene, and animal sacrifice – the last which played a major role in the road to Salvation. Many of the rules were burdensome, and some defied common sense. A good example is the case of the Good Samaritan where the Priest and Levite both ignored the need to assist the crime victim, lest they lose their purification. Here, common sense was set aside and the Law prevailed (Luke 10:25-37).
God had a good reason to set aside the Seventh Day as a day of rest! Consider the work that God did on the first six days; anyone would be overcome by the burden of that task. Better yet, by setting aside a day of rest and reflection, the Israelites could reflect on the great mercy of God and offer thanksgiving for the many gifts He bestows on his people. In modern times, God’s people watered down the importance of the Sabbath and have paid a dear price for this.
During the formative years of civilization, man had to work constantly to provide food, shelter, and defense from wild animals or enemies. Workers who would spend six days in toil needed a break, not only from work, but to have the time to reflect on the wonder of God to fulfill a meaningful need.
More important is the opportunity to spend time with family and friends, visit Church and commune with friends and neighbors. Witness today the way we spend our time. The other day I was at breakfast and I noticed three young children sitting across from me. From the time they sat down, they had their noses pointed to their cell phones, and it seemed that they did not even know they were together; there was no verbal communication between the three.
How sad that we have lost the ability to communicate with each other and depend upon an inanimate object to control our behavior. Worse yet, these artificial tools can permit unwanted ideas and thoughts in the brain and render the users of these tools to eventually control them.
When Jesus came upon the scene, some who were looking for a Messiah recognized Him (the Magi, Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna at his presentation in the Temple).
JESUS BEGINS HIS MINISTRY
If we now move to the ministry of Jesus, we soon encounter the beginning of opposition to Him. An interesting aspect of the opposition was the inability of the Jewish Community to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. The Priesthood was Jesus’ worst enemy. Being in charge of the spiritual health of the Israelites, the Priesthood did everything to discredit Jesus. Some, like Nicodemus, did recognize Jesus, but the majority clung to their disbelief.
The Priesthood had so many oppressive laws including observation of the Sabbath. For some reason, the Pharisees attacked Jesus every time He healed on the Sabbath. We shall review a few instances of this occurrence that shows how intent the Pharisees were on obeying the Law, but losing sight of the greatest man to ever walk the face of the Earth, Jesus Christ.
MAN WITH THE WITHERED HAND
Jesus entered a synagogue on the Sabbath and noted a man with a withered hand. Here again, Jesus defied the Law and did what was right and healed the man (Mark 3:1-6; Matt. 12:9-14).
RETURN TO NAZARETH
Jesus returns to Nazareth. The local boy comes home, and as was His habit, He went to the Synagogue on the Sabbath. This was a significant event in which Jesus actually uses Isaiah to prove His role in Salvation (Luke 4:16-30). Here Jesus escapes a threat to His life; one of many attempts.
THE CRIPPLED WOMAN
Here was a great example of Jesus’ compassion as He healed a woman who was “bent over by a spirit for eighteen years” – a significant miracle and one that clearly demonstrated the blindness of the Priesthood! They could not see the miracle, but only the infraction of the Law (Luke 13:10-17).
MAN WITH DROPSY
Jesus healed a man with dropsy on the Sabbath. Here again, the Pharisees complained that He broke the Law, completely showing their blindness. Surely, these learned men should have seen beyond the Law and questioned who Jesus was, and should have tried to connect Him to the Prophets who predicted His coming and mission (Luke 14.1-6).
HEALING AT THE POOL
Jesus enters the Sheep’s Gate (called Bethesda) where the sick would gather. On occasion, an Angel would disturb the waters, and the first to enter the water would be healed of their malady. But a crippled man could not get there soon enough and was never healed.
When Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be healed, the man began to complain of his handicap instead of answering yes! Jesus told him to rise up and take up his pallet. Carrying his pallet got him in trouble with the keepers of the Law, and he was criticized for his action. Here again is another example of a lack of common sense on the part of the Law Keepers (John 5:1-16).
MAN BORN BLIND
In this remarkable account of Jesus’ mercy, we encounter a man born blind. (Some report that this man did not even have eyes, only sockets.) Jesus spat on the ground and made mud to anoint his eyes. (Saliva was thought to contain healing power.) Then He sent the man to the pool of Siloam to wash. (Siloam means sent.) The pool was about two miles away, but the blind man obeyed Jesus. (Compare the paralytic who complained, washed, and was given his sight.) Here again, Jesus healed on the Sabbath, and the Pharisees went nuts (John 9:1-41).
JESUS, LORD OF THE SABBATH
When the Apostles were seen walking through the fields and stripping grain to eat, the Pharisees complained that they were doing this on the Sabbath. Jesus countered by citing scripture to justify the Apostles’ action. The question a critic may ask is did Jesus sin by violating the Sabbath Law? If we read the scriptures cited above, we find that the Pharisees were so tied to the Law, that they could not use reason to see what Jesus had done. Doing work on the Sabbath was prohibited, yet Jesus healed on the Sabbath.
What Jesus did was not work, but He was delivering a Gift from God! (Deut. 23:24-25; Isaiah 53:9; 1 Peter 2:22; Mark 2:23-28).
These examples demonstrate the power of God, the great mercy of Jesus Christ, and Heaven’s laboratory on earth to teach us the correct way to Salvation. We must be alert to the fact that Principalities and Powers are dead set against Christians, and that we need to be alert to the constant danger we are in as long as Satan and his minions are free. We owe such a great debt to Jesus for His sacrifice to save us, and must keep Him in the forefront of our daily thoughts and lives.
COPYRIGHT@THOMAS J. MIRANDA