Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” 4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. 5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. – Mark 3:1-5

The Sabbath is designed as a day of rest and worship, in honor of God who created all things in six days, and then rested on the seventh day. It is meant to be a holy day, set apart for God. As we honor God in all things, God’s presence will restore us. In this way, while we dedicate a day to God, it is to us a day of restoration for our spirit, soul and body.

In Jesus’ day, the religious leaders had made the Sabbath day into something far different than what Scripture actually called for, by creating numerous specific rules, defining what constituted work that was not lawful. They turned the Sabbath day into a bunch of dos and don’ts rather than focusing on the presence of God. It became a religious exercise rather than an expression of relational love to our Creator. They also by-passed the nature of God which is always intent on love and justice for people.

It’s interesting to note in this miracle described in Mark 3:1-5 that there is no indication that Jesus did any physical action in the healing that would have constituted as work. Scripture doesn’t even say that Jesus touched the man. All Jesus did was speak to him. In His Word, just as God created the whole universe with His Word, Jesus brought fulfillment of the Sabbath to this man who had a withered hand.

Imagine how frustrating it must have been for this man having a shriveled hand. It would have limited his ability to work, possibly producing financial strain for his family. It likely created some shame and embarrassment for him as others saw it and stared. It may have even caused spiritual doubt in his life as he wondered at why God would have him stay in this condition.

When Jesus healed the man’s hand, He fulfilled the Sabbath in his life by bring total refreshment and restoration to his body, soul and spirit. He healed his physical body. He restored his soul – the place of his thought and emotion – by bringing hope and removing shame. He refreshed his spirit by revealing with power the God of all goodness, love and justice.

Jesus is absolutely the Lord of the Sabbath, not a Sabbath of rules or religious dos and don’ts, but a Sabbath of true restoration. He desires to bring refreshment to your body, soul and spirit. You find it in His presence. Seek His face, and you will find His rest.