Date: September 17, 2017
Speaker: Jim Stanley
Series: Discipled to Disciple
Text: Luke 13:10-17
So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound — think of it — for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath? Luke 10:16
As I read this passage my first thought is “that is what a Sunday service should be like.” People come bent or even broken. They come with their needs and hurts; they come empty, hungry and thirsty. Maybe they have been beat up by the world all weak long. They come with nothing in their hands. They come needy.
They don’t come together to fix what is wrong or to figure out what to do next. They don’t come to learn how to pull themselves out of the mess they are in. They come to meet with the Living God. They come to love and be loved; to serve and be served by Him, to pour themselves out in worship and trust Him with all the things that have gone wrong. They come expectantly, fervently and longingly; they come replacing all their human effort with trust.
The Sabbath had more than one purpose but the primary one was that the people of God would take one day to stop working so they could rest in the rest in the presence of the One who never stops working. They would stop doing for themselves and acknowledge the one who gives every good and perfect gift.
This is where the Pharisees had gone wrong with the Sabbath. They had turned it into something austere and dead. It was to be a day of denial not a day of abundance. It was a day of shutting down when God intended it to be a day of being open to Him and all His love, mercy and truth.
With all of their added rules and regulations, the Sabbath had become just one more day of self-effort to prove one’s worth before God. Instead of putting effort into what God required them to do, the leaders of Jesus day put all their effort into what they ought not to do to keep the Sabbath. They had turned the day when all the focus was to be on God into a day when all the focus was right back on them.
We in the church often struggle to understand the idea of the Sabbath today. Is there still one day to be set aside primarily for worship and rest before our God? Should we never work on a Sunday? What is meant in the book of Hebrew where we are told to make every effort to enter God’s rest?
One thing is clear, we are not Israel and we do not keep the Sabbath as a matter of law. It is also clear that rest is an attitude we should seek on a continual basis in our daily walk with Jesus. However, considering that the roots of the Sabbath go all the way back to creation, it is not wrong to think that God still recommends a cycle of work and rest for His people. The day of the week is not important; it’s a matter of liberty. But, the principle of setting a regular time to turn from our own efforts and spend time in the presence of the One who supplies all we need, is a valid one.
We would do well to consider as a pattern of weekly practice the words of Isaiah: “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 58:13-14).