And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).
This was one of the responses Jesus made to the Pharisees who criticized Him for what they perceived to be His violating the Sabbath law.
This was also the topic of our “virtual church” lesson presented on March 22, 2020, the first Sunday we were not able to meet together due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Here are the points that were made…
1. The Sabbath and Sunday are not exact parallels. But they are alike in that each was the special day of observance each week ordained by God: the Jews rested on the Sabbath and Christians gathered for worship on Sundays.
They were both important:
- Exodus 31:14 ‘You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people.
- Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
2. Of the two days ordained by God, the Sabbath is much more explicitly commanded. It was one of the 10 commandments (written in stone with the finger of God!) and there are many direct commandments regarding the Sabbath in the Laws of Moses.
Our understanding of Sunday as the Lord’s Day is pieced together from the example in Acts 20:7 and what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11 and 16. This is enough to instruct us what we should be doing but there is no straightforward “Remember The Lord’s Day and keep it Holy” type statement regarding Sunday.
3. Even the Sabbath was not an inflexibly ridged commandment. In our context, Jesus gave examples of compassion, physical necessity, and even work as exceptions. Matthew’s account says “Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?” (Matthew 12:5). That is an enlightening statement considering Exodus 31:14 said whoever profanes the Sabbath shall be put to death! Jesus said they profane the Sabbath and are blameless! There are exceptions!
Jesus them summed it up by saying the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. The Sabbath (and I would make an analogy to Sunday) is a gift God has given to us to help us. There will be times when urgent, critical needs and issues arise that must be dealt with. We should careful not to rationalize in our own mind that our personal desires are necessities. God knows our hearts. God wants us to be mature enough to practice good judgment.
The application point is that we should not feel guilty if we must miss, especially in situations where we are looking out for own safety or the safety of others.
Please share your thoughts or ask any question about today’s topic.