How do Christians keep the Sabbath?

If the law isn’t done away, then the Sabbath isn’t done away either, then, is it? And if Christ died so that the righteous requirements of the law can be FULLY met in us (Romans 8:3-4), how can the Sabbath law be left out? Obviously the whole law has to be kept, so how do Christians keep the Sabbath?

There’s an answer in what Jesus said to those who accused his disciples of breaking the Sabbath in Matthew 12:2. In verse 3 he gave a couple of examples of good men breaking the law – like David and his companions entering the temple of God and eating the “consecrated bread” meant only for priests, and the priests themselves breaking the Sabbath by working in the temple (verses 3-5).

To which Jesus then says in verse 6, “I tell you that one greater than the temple is here.” There was in their presence someone much greater than the temple, so to those who thought the law was all important, whether it was temple law or Sabbath law, Jesus replies: No, they’re not all important – because I’m here, and I’m more important, “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath,” verse 8. He not only lords it over the temple, he lords it over the Sabbath too.

Their focus, therefore, should be on HIM, which is what the Sabbath was all about in the first place. When the Sabbath law was first instituted in Israel it was associated with Jesus providing enough manna on Friday that the people could rest from collecting it on Saturday (Exodus 16), and it was also associated with Jesus promising to make them holy (Exodus 31:13). In both cases, the Sabbath was about Jesus providing for all their needs, both physical (the manna) and spiritual (holiness). The Sabbath, therefore, was about trusting him.

And only ten verses before Jesus said he was “Lord of the Sabbath” in Matthew 12:8, he also said in Matthew 11:28, “Come TO ME, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” And you wonder how many people hearing both statements put them together and came up with, “Oh, I get it, Jesus is our Sabbath, because that’s what the Lord created the Sabbath for, to rest and trust in him.”

And now here he was in person, actually providing for people’s needs on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:13), perfectly picturing what the Sabbath was for: It was all about trusting him. So how do Christians keep the Sabbath? By trusting Jesus – which is what the Sabbath has always been about.

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