9 Departing from there, He went into their synagogue. 10 And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”-so that they might accuse Him. 11 And He said to them, “What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 “How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other.
I think it is ironic that after using the examples of the priests working on the Sabbath, Jesus goes into the synagogue to do the very same thing. Only He doesn’t go in there to preach a lesson from the scriptures, but to teach by acting. As the Pharisees are still trying to find guilt in Him, He goes and heals a man’s hand. More so, He says it is ok to do good on the Sabbath. At this point, they don’t even care that He is healing someone; they are so appalled at His insolence with their rules they completely miss the blessing of the miraculous healing!
These days we have enough trouble trying to observe a regular Sabbath day, let alone find some rest during the week. Imagine pastors and church staff: their busiest day is probably Sunday! So then, are they in trouble by the law for “working”? What about the volunteers that clean the church, serve communion, and collect the offerings? The worship team is certainly putting forth some effort too; are they all sinners? Jesus is pointing out that while yes, He has set aside 1 day a week for repose and rest in Him, it is ok to do good and serve others.
Some people rest and feel rejuvenated by helping and serving. Others refresh themselves by isolating themselves in the house all day. Some prefer to go fishing. He wants us to rest in Him and however He designed us to do so is how we should do it. The religious were keeping the Sabbath to show how pious they were. Jesus kept the Sabbath by using it as a way to grow closer to His Heavenly Father. The Sabbath is designed to give our bodies, our minds, and our souls rest. It is meant to help us trust God more by leaving things in His hands. Observing the Sabbath is about spiritual growth not religious piety. Remember what god said in Ezekiel 20 about His Sabbath and its purpose:
12 “Also I gave them My sabbaths to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them.
Maybe you don’t observe the Sabbath; maybe you are on the other side of the spectrum. Don’t use this example of Jesus as an excuse not to observe it. By refusing to observe the Sabbath, we are refusing to trust God. Remember, Jesus didn’t come to abolish the Law, but fulfill it, so we still must observe His commandments. His death, burial, and resurrection empowers us to trust in Him more and let 1 day a week go. He wants us to grow into a closer relationship with Him. How can we do that by always being on the run? Psalm 46 speaks to this very condition. Although it is talking about being at war and trusting in God amidst adversity, maybe our war isn’t on the battlefield, but in our hearts. Are you over concerned with work? Are you overly busy with family events? Have you become burdened with service? God tells us:
10 “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Our busyness does no good. We cannot “prove ourselves” to God until we stop, rest, and relax in Him. Our busyness exalts ourselves, not God. Our trust in Him exalts Him. Who are you trying to exalt?