Skip to Content
article

Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath

11.12.2023

4M

Listen To This Article

Introduction

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27–28

This is an excerpt from Louie Giglio’s book At the Table with Jesus.


The Pharisees of Jesus’ day loved rules. Loved them! They loved writing their own rules. They loved showing everyone else how well they followed their own rules. Unfortunately, they loved watching to make sure everyone followed their rules, and they loved coming down like thunder on those who failed to do so.

Now, to be clear, the Pharisees and the other religious leaders of Jesus’ day weren’t always focused on the rules of the Old Testament, which we sometimes call the Law. These were the six hundred or so commands God gave His people through Moses, and all of those commands are good. They reflect God’s character and reveal the ways in which we fall short of His standard.

The problem came when the Pharisees and other religious leaders decided to interpret those laws by making more rules. Take the fourth commandment, for example: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. . . . On it you shall not do any work” (Exodus 20:8, 10). That is a good commandment. It helps us understand the value of rest and of setting aside time to worship God.

But when God’s people set about to follow that command, the hit a snag. Namely, what does it mean to work? Obviously, if I’m a blacksmith, I shouldn’t do any smithing on the Sabbath. But could I plant a garden? Would that be work? Could I help my neighbor by shoeing his horse for free or would that be work? Which activities are defined as work and which are acceptable?

Not surprisingly, the Pharisees responded to this conundrum by making more rules. Many of them claimed, for example, that it was disobeying God to walk more than three-quarters of a mile on the Sabbath, because that could be considered work. Others said it was against God’s law to spit on the ground on the Sabbath, because you might inadvertently water a seed, which would be farming. Therefore, work. Therefore, forbidden. 

This was their mindset when they saw Jesus’ disciples walking through a field one Sabbath day. Tragically, Scripture says those disciples “began to pick some heads of grain” (Mark 2:23). The Pharisees were shocked! This was a form of threshing, which was work. How could they! Indignantly, the Pharisees scolded Jesus, saying, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” (v. 24). 

That’s when Jesus reminded them of reality: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Jesus told them the Sabbath was meant to be a gift. A time to find rest and peace and worship. A time to connect with almighty God. It was never meant to be a time for rules and restrictions and spiteful accusations. 

How did Jesus know these things? Because “the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Meaning that Jesus has authority over the Sabbath, because the Sabbath was a command from God, and Jesus is God. More than that, Jesus also has authority over those spiritual habits and religious rituals that so often start with good intentions but end up crowding out what’s really important: our relationship with Him.

Response

  • How have you typically approached the Sabbath? Why?
  • What are some traditions or religious expectations that make it more difficult for you to connect with God?

If you want to keep reading from At the Table with Jesus, click here to grab a copy of this special resource.

Share Article

Article Topics

Scripture References

  • Mark 2:27–28
  • Mark 2:23-24
  • Exodus 20:8
  • Exodus 20:10
Louie Giglio

Global Pastor

Louie Giglio Louie Giglio is the Visionary Architect and Director of the Passion Movement, comprised of Passion Conferences, Passion City Church, Passion Publishing and sixstepsrecords, and the founder of Passion Institute.