Mark 2:24 (NIV)
24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
In this passage, the disciples are going through the grain fields on the Sabbath plucking heads of grain and are accused by the Pharisees of doing something unlawful on the Sabbath. Jesus answered them by saying, “aren’t you aware that when David was hungry he and his men ate of the showbread”? The consecrated bread consisted of 12 loaves placed on the golden table outside the most holy place in the tent of meeting. It was a special offering to God that was set out fresh every Sabbath, eaten only by the High Priest and His sons. Yet David broke the rules because of a higher law..
Jesus was using this event as an example. What he was saying was that rules are not intended to take precedence over human need. God made rules to benefit and serve man, not to rule man. In Jesus, God shows us that the core of authentic human life is love. This is the higher law. Paul wrote in Galatians 5:14 “for the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this command: love your neighbor as yourself”. To love is to enter into the fellowship of the Holy Spirit and to dwell in the eternal love of the Father and the Son. Love says “people are more important than systems and programs”. Jesus was saying, people were not made to be servants of the Sabbath, but exactly the opposite. The Sabbath was made to benefit the people.
Or us now, Jesus is our Sabbath rest. Entering His rest means we rest in His finished work, not in our own striving and efforts.. Genesis 2:1-3 describes God instituting of the Sabbath.
1 ¶ Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
We note from those verses that everything God created was now done. God finished his work and it was perfect! And so He rested. This rest doesn’t mean what we usually think of as rest. When we are tired we go for a rest. We’ve been working hard, so we need to rest to restore our strength. This rest in Genesis means the ending of an activity. So God didn’t get worn out from creating the whole universe so that He had to take a rest, saying all I’m glad that’s over. He rested because He was done. Nothing could be added to His work to improve on it. It was perfect, it was finished.
He rested in the full knowledge of a perfect creation culminating in the creation of man. Therefore the true Sabbath is not just the keeping of the special day, but the ending the fulfillment of specific God work. Of course God the Father is still working in many different ways in mercy and in love. Jesus said “My Father is working until now and I am working”( John 5:17). Jesus was saying to the religious leaders “My Father is working, extending love extending mercy,. So if I do his will on the Sabbath it’s because the Father in love says “Do it Son”. Jesus rested in what the Father was doing.
When Jesus died on the cross, Jesus spoke out loudly before he breathed his last breath, “it is finished”! The sacrifice was done. The work was complete done, Hallelujah. Jesus has become our Sabbath rest. The weekly Sabbath and its Old Testament significance ended that glorious day in fulfillment. So Paul says in Colossians 2 “therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon Sabbath. These are only a shadow of what is to come for the substance belongs to Christ”. The writer to the Hebrews says “so then there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God for whoever enters God’s rest also ceases from his own labors as God did from His”.
So then we can conclude that the true Sabbath for us is to cease from our own labors, our own efforts, our own works, and our own trying to be more holy by following rules. Because it’s all been accomplished for us through his wonderful grace. It is finished. I can do nothing of myself however as I find myself resting in what Christ Jesus has completed then I can do all things through Him!
The secret is to cease from our dependence on our own strength on our own activities on our own notoriety and totally depend on his activity in us. Come to Him. Jesus is our Sabbath rest!