Friday, August 08, 2008

Sabbath Keeping

In our small group, we're reading (somewhat slowly) through the gospel of Luke. We're getting some good discussion and thinking going on, which I always enjoy.

Last week, we talked about the Sabbath keeping passage in Luke 6: 1-10
1 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. 2 Some of the Pharisees asked, "Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?"

3 Jesus answered them, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions." 5 Then Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

6 On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. 7 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. 8 But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, "Get up and stand in front of everyone." So he got up and stood there.

9 Then Jesus said to them, "I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?"

10 He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 11 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.

As I was reading it, it struck me more clearly than ever before how much like the the Pharisees we can be when it comes to our Sunday morning worship times. As I was thinking, I think I realized for one of the first times that truly, the Sabbath was not for God; it was for Israel. When you're a slave and you're given a day off every week, that's a big deal. That's a rest. The problem with it came when people like the Pharisees and teachers of the law started mandating what work was and wasn't that the Sabbath became onerous to the people. Having the Sabbath helped remind the people of God (not that they always remembered anyway), but God didn't NEED them to honor it for God to be able to function as God.

The mistake that we as Christians can make is making our worship services as restrictive. Are there aspects of things that should be done "decently and in order"? Sure, but if our times of worship become as onerous as the Sabbath became, if they become as much a hindrance to us, then we can lose focus on why we go on Sundays (or whenever).


Thomas+ said...

Hey friend,

I kind of don't understand this post. As in, I'm trying to figure out your "point."

Maybe my confusion comes from this: you seem to be confusing "sabbath" with "public worship". Are those two things synonymous in your mind, or am I misreading?

Help me out, Phil!

Phil said...

I think the "point" is that, particularly within Church of Christ circles, we've been so legalistic about what is worship that it can become as onerous as Sabbath keeping did for the Jews of Jesus' time.

And am I mistaken, but wasn't the Sabbath associated with worship? I could be wrong about that.

belinda said...

Plus please realize that in Jewish beliefs, it's the next day when it becomes evening. Example: by Friday evening - sunset - it's the Sabbath. Sunday evening worship is actually on Monday.

Thomas+ said...

The Law requires worship in the Temple (or Tabernacle) alone, and this worship occurs seven days a week.

In the rabbinic Judaism of the New Testament period, the synagogue is a place of teaching, not of worship. And synagogue teaching occurs throughout the week, though there seemed to be greater participation on Saturdays (the sabbath).

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