The Question about the Sabbath
Reflection on the Gospel of the Saturday
The Law was given to the Israelite people to live a Holy life, in the midst of the unholiness of the people who lived around them. Meaning, they had to cultivate a relationship with God, which would set them apart from all the other people. They needed to be examples of God in their life, and as weak as they were – they were still good and better, because God was the center of their life, and in their life. The Israelite people observed the Law wholeheartedly, but without relating to God. During the kingship of King Jeroboam, he built altars to foreign Gods and encouraged the people to follow them, because he himself did not know anything, nor was he taught anything bout Yahweh, because he had a great Egyptian influence in his life. As a result his actions resulted in the degradation of Northern Israel and eventually deportation/exile to Assyria. South Judah also went into exile to Babylon, because of similar reasons. The People in exile forgot their true living God and started serving foreign gods. After the return from the Babylonian Exile, many reformers and law keepers arose and exhorted the people to follow the Law, but only in doing what is written, but missing to stress on the unspoken, in-between the lines desire, of the Law giving God. The people in general blindly followed the Law without knowing its essence. The Sabbath was important, because around it was woven the Law, since it affected what was central to humanity – i.e. were they in a slavish relationship – i.e. this is the Law, we need to keep it, or would they immerse themselves in getting involved in celebrating the Law. Therefore the Sabbath was a day dedicated to God and Gods work. But they kept the Law out of fear and requirement, so as to not go back into exile.
The Law Keepers in Jesus’ time (the Pharisees, Sadducees and Levites – Teachers) accused Jesus’ disciples of doing work on the Sabbath Day by plucking the grains and rubbing on their hands. Jesus supported His disciples and cited King David’s own action of eating Holy Show Bread kept in the Tabernacle, which only priests could eat. Here Jesus was helping them to understand that David did something against the Law, yet it is not attributed as wrong, and David is still revered, so they did not need to take offence at what His disciples were doing, because they were engaged with something more required – i.e. in building a relationship around Jesus – “the Son of man who is Lord of the Sabbath” Jesus gave more value to human than observing the Sabbath Day, because the people were already carrying a lot of burdens and struggling for their livelihood. Jesus adds value to the Law by adding mercy and compassion, to its observance.
The Pharisees and Sadducees wanted to be a strict police like towards the people and punish them even on their minor errors. Whereas Jesus helps them to understand the spirit of the Law. In introspecting, we need to ask ourselves, ‘Today where am I, in the place of Jesus, helping people to grow in their life, or am I an obstacle for their growth?’
“Encouragement makes a better person”