Our church recently worked through a series of teachings on Sabbath. Far beyond a weekly holiday, this biblical concept is loaded with meaning, with each additional layer creating a rich tapestry of teaching that displays the love and goodness of God in fresh ways.
This series of blog posts will aim to capture some of the highlights of discovery along the way.
I often muse at how Jesus pushed the issue of the Sabbath. Within the Gospels, we have thirty-seven accounts of Jesus performing miracles. Straightforward statistics would suggest that one-seventh of those acts would have taken place on the Sabbath; however, we find seven Sabbath wonders, among these stories. While this isn’t overwhelming, it does paint for me a picture of a feisty Saviour. He didn’t need to heal on the Sabbath. If he would looking to be “meek and mild”, he could slotted his signs differently in his daytimer. But I imagine him eyeing the Sabbath with anticipation – not just for the rest that was to accompany it, but for the riling that he foresaw as well.
What was Jesus trying to do?
He was trying to take issue.
Jesus has a problem with people distorting the ways of the Father with too-small visions. Jesus gets worked up when life-giving gifts are mutated into death-dealing burdens. These types of silliness make Jesus angry. They also make him hungry. Such fiascoes awaken Jesus’ taste for blood – but not yours. If anything, Jesus’ dealings concerning the Sabbath give clear indication that he loves to butcher sacred cows.
When we begin to value things more than God values them, yet expend energy convincing ourselves that our assessment is right in line with God’s, then our sacred cows come into view. And everyone has a sacred cow. Most of us own ranches full of them. One of Jesus’ hobbies is slaughtering them. After he does, he slathers them in his secret sauce, grills them, and feeds them to us. And then he lovingly watches us squirm as we awaken to the realization that our beloved Betsy’s bell isn’t clanging anymore.
Future posts will look at the practical side of Sabbath: What does it mean? How should we view it in this time and place? How might one observe? What does it mean to keep it holy?
But for today, let’s just admire the Sabbath as a still-live grenade. In his day, Jesus occasionally pulled its pin and rolled it into people’s foxholes just to see them scatter and take stock. In that sense, Sabbath will forever hold value as a case study on the eagerness of Jesus to challenge distorted values, question misplaced priorities, and nudge people to seriously consider whether they are tapped into the full life-flow of their Maker.
If that’s all Sabbath means today, it’s quite a lot.
But I suspect that’s not all Sabbath means today.
- Why do you think Jesus liked to “mix it up” on Sabbath?
- Ever had an experience when it felt like Jesus was hunting down one of your sacred cows? Did he succeed?
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