Read Mark 2:23-3:6
“The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” Sadly, many have used this statement of our Lord’s as an excuse for ignoring the sabbath. In our modern world, we have come to believe that filling every moment with activity is virtuous. We scorn rest as wasted time. This incessant busyness takes its toll on our bodies, our minds, our families, and most significantly, on our relationship with God. The sabbath was made for man—it is a gift. But it is also the fourth of the 10 commandments.
When God commanded His people to “keep holy the sabbath day,” He was telling us to “set apart” a day when we can rest—a day to focus on our family and our relationship with Him. It is a gift. The teachers of the law attempted to spell out specifics on what constituted work on the sabbath. So, when Jesus’ disciples plucked a kernel from a head of grain, the tradition declared their action as harvesting—they were working on the sabbath! Ultimately, when Jesus went into the synagogue, He is confronted with the effort of the teachers to find fault. He uses their reasoning against them, saying, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent—they had no answer.
The sabbath is a gift, a gift of rest for God’s faithful people. Saturday, the sabbath, is a day of rest and preparation for the day of resurrection. Sabbath days are time to spend with God, and time to prepare for celebratory worship of Him. Look at the collects appointed for Saturdays. In Morning Prayer we pray, “Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of your sanctuary…” And as we lay the day behind us in Compline, we pray, “Grant as we sing your glory at the close of this day, our joy may abound in the morning as we celebrate the Paschal mystery…” The sabbath was made for man, as a precious gift to us. Why would we want to scorn such a precious gift?