Lord of the Sabbath

Mark 2:23-3:6

by Pastor John

"Jesus declares not that he has come to reform religion but that he's here to end religion and to replace it with himself...

"The law of God directed that you had to rest from your work one day in seven. That was wonderful, of course, but the religious leaders of the day had fence in this law with a stack of specific regulations. There were thirty-nine types of activity that you could not do on the Sabbath, including reaping grain, which is what the Pharisees accused the disciples of doing....

"Why does Jesus become angry with the religious leaders? Because the Sabbath is about restoring the diminished. It's about replenishing the drained. It's about repairing the broken. To heal the man's shriveled hand is to do exactly what the Sabbath is all about. Yet because the leaders are so concerned the Sabbath regulations be observed, they don't want Jesus to heal this man - an incredible example of missing the forest for the trees. Their hearts are as shriveled as the man's hand. They're insecure and anxious about the regulations. They're tribal, judgmental, and self-obsessed instead of caring about the man. Why? Religion...

"Jesus shows in these encounters that there are two radically different spiritual paradigms. Imagine two people, both trying to obey the law of God, yet they operate from these two opposing paradigms. Both want to keep the Sabbath day, but in one case the obedience is a burden, an enslavement; while in the other it's a delight, a gift. One paradigm is religion, which - as we observed before - is fundamentally advice. The other is the gospel of Jesus Christ, which begins and ends with news. These are two completely different things.

"Most people in the world believe that if there is a God, you relate to God by being good. Most religions are based on that principle, though there are a million different variations on it.

"But they all have the same logic: If I perform, if I obey, I'm accepted. The gospel of Jesus cannot only different from that but diametrically opposed to it: I'm fully accepted in Jesus Christ, and therefore I obey.

"When Jesus says, 'I am the Lord of the Sabbath,' Jesus means that he is the Sabbath. He is the source of deep rest we need.

"On the cross Jesus was saying...the thing that makes you truly weary, this need to prove yourself...that is finished."

-Tim Keller, excerpts from "Jesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of the Son of God", pages 39-46