In John 5:16-18, we see that the Jews were accusing Jesus of breaking the Sabbath. We will continue to see this same accusation throughout the Gospel of John. Jesus directly responds in verse 17 by stating, "My Father is working until now, and I am working." Verse 18 explains the Jews' understanding of what Jesus said - that He is equal with God.
The Jews recognized that God Himself continues to hold the universe together, even on the Sabbath, but He does not break the Sabbath because He is Lord over the Sabbath. Jesus asserts that He has the same authority as the Son of God, as He states in John 5:19-29. Also, from a human perspective, the Jews had added additional rules to the 4th Commandment. Rather than understanding that God created this Sabbath rest for man for the purpose of physical rest and to focus on worshipping Him, they focused on adding more definition for what they could not do.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." - Exodus 20:8-11
How should we view the Sabbath rest in light of who Jesus is?
First, we need to understand that Jesus is the ultimate rest for our weary souls. We can become so burdened and overwhelmed by our constant battle with our sins and our need for a Savior. Jesus tells us that He provides rest.
"27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 28:27-30
Secondly, Jesus commands us to continue to obey the moral law as laid out in the Ten Commandments. We know this from Matthew 22:36-40 when Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment and He summarizes the moral law.
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40
This includes the 4th commandment to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. This is the only true holiday (holy day) established by God at creation (Genesis 2:1-3). In obedience to this commandment, we are to set aside our worldly employment and spend time focusing on worshipping God. We do this by gathering together for corporate worship as God's people on Sundays, which is modeled after the earliest church who gathered on the first day of the week in light of Jesus's resurrection (Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2). We also see in Hebrews that God's Word tells us specifically not to neglect meeting together, asserting the importance of the local church which was instituted by Jesus.
"24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." Hebrews 10:24-25
Finally, we can only physically and spiritually rest in Jesus, the one who ordained this rest at creation. His work on the cross to atone for our sins is the only way that we can be reconciled back to God. We can rest today knowing that as believers, we are a blood-bought people who have entered into God's rest by His grace without any works of our own (Ephesians 2:8-9).
"9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hebrews 4:9-12
How are you obediently resting in Jesus? If you will repent and believe the gospel today, He is faithful to forgive you and you can find rest for your weary soul. If you find yourself unfaithful to the local church, you can certainly decide to respond in obedience starting now. We invite you to worship with us, The District Church, on Sundays at 10am at Lee High School. We hope to see you there!
Post by Peggy Starling