Under the Old Covenant, written on tablets of stone for Moses and the twelve tribes, was the commandment “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (EX 20:8). Just as everything the Father does and says, the intent behind this was to help us; in this case, giving us a refreshing pause from continual effort. Observing the Sabbath was also a sign of God’s covenant with His people. Slaves, servants, sons and daughters all got to participate in a day of rest from their labors, and while they rested, it demonstrated that they were God’s people.
Around 1,400 years later as Jesus Himself walked the earth, on Sabbath days He was often found sharing the good news of the kingdom, performing miracles, healing many, providing rest and freedom from torment, while the Pharisees looked on in utter disgust. The Pharisees missed the motive behind the gift of the Sabbath and had turned a restful day into a heavy burden, demanding compliance separate from mercy, viewing Jesus as a violator of the law.
Undeterred, Jesus shed light on an even greater “Sabbath rest” than the 24 hour time period that the Law had provided. He said that He Himself was the “Lord of the Sabbath” (Luke 6:5), and invited everyone to “Come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). Later, when He said “It is finished” while hanging on a cross, Jesus had just completed all of the work that would ever be required to satisfy the Old Covenant, while simultaneously providing us a brand new covenant. The Old Covenant had been written on stone for the 12 tribes, and the New Covenant was written in blood by the Stone that the builders rejected for every tribe. This beautiful New Covenant doesn’t require a single day of the week to show that we are God’s people or to remember Him. Instead, we have the person of Jesus to perpetually rest in and remember 7 days a week, 365 days a year from here throughout eternity.
Jesus gave the Sabbath a significant upgrade. Each moment of the day is a celebration of rest waiting to happen, whenever we remember and consider the sensory overloading love and lavish kindness that Jesus has for us. Instead of sacrificing lambs for our sin, He became the one sacrifice for all time. Instead of me trying to please God through keeping laws and days and dietary rules, He brought me into His family and I am now a Son purchased and adopted.
Our Sabbath is a Holy Person to be enjoyed moment by moment. Resting in, abiding in and believing in Him demonstrates that we are His people forever.
“This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” John 6:29
- Matt Peterson