Pastor Jim Driskell
First St Johns
Sabbath Sermon March 30, 2014 He told us to rest in Him
We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father … And all those who know rest and peace in the Lord of the Sabbath said … AMEN
(Juggling my date book,) I’ll do the reading for Exodus, but then I have to keep practicing my sermon, I’m getting sick of hearing my own voice,(sorry I’ll be right with you) but if I do that in the morning, I’m going to have to be up by 5:30, so that I can get my workout in, do devotions, and then work for a couple of hours before I leave, or I’m going to have to stay up later…..)
We keep trying to find that magic wand to make more time, to try to be more efficient with the time we have. When I worked for Motorola, they were big on stuff like this, they paid for people to take Time Management Classes, during work time. Have to be more efficient, which meant your work days were about (holding hands straight out to the side) this much bigger than when you started. So how about family, nuclear and extended, the kids’ swim meets, music lessons, trips, shared times, quiet moments. How about those other goals in your life; sports, civic, academic, your spouse’s pursuits, and yes once in awhile actually watch a Red Sox game? It’s been estimated that if we did everything that we should do in a day, Red Sox extra, we would need a 36 hour day, mercifully that also includes sleep.
The Sabbath is the 4th commandment, Gene Veith notes, “one of the ten commandments, up there with killing, stealing, not committing adultery… the Sabbath’s holiness is to be recognized by not working on that day.”
So how does a Christian manage his time, I have to tell you, not a whole lot differently. We live in the world too. We put too much trust in our own judgment, we have to do this, we have to do that, can’t let my child get behind, got to put more time in at work, do an Olympic distance triathlon under 2 hours before I’m 60, I want more degrees, on and on, when do we stop and wait on God?
Well, if I shift this around, if I stay up later on Saturday night, I can go to one service, no Bible study, no fellowship interaction, but I can do a zip in pray, sermon, sing, zip out and I’m done. Is that an A priority or a B, Covey says it’s an A, all right, but I’m only budgeting two hours, no more. Make no mistake about it, clergy are pretty much the same, different motivation but…, have to get that new book, titled The Two Minute Pastor.
Rabbi Heschel talks about athletes having to take a breathing spell in order to collect their strength. I’ve been doing triathlons for twenty years, part of race preparation is tapering, for the week prior to your race you rest and let your body repair. Last year I decided to do an racquetball tournament match 2 days before a race. I might as well have not shown up for the race. Rabbi Heschel notes the Sabbath, is time God gives us to taper.
What does God say about this? “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling, (Is. 30:15). This is our Father who is telling us what would be best for us to do. God is not telling us that we will be saved if we become couch potatoes, the third commandment clearly states that “Six days you shall labor and do all your work,” (Ex 20:9). And we are certainly saved in our Lord Jesus Christ, but the Father is concerned that we become so absorbed in our work, our achievement, things that build our pride that we forget our Lord, we make an idol of the things we do. On the Sabbath, we all can stop and turn back to Jesus. Because the Christian Sabbath means more than the commandment, we observe the Sabbath on Sunday because that is the day that Jesus was resurrected to show us that we have life eternal in Him. Every Sabbath we are not only refreshed, God’s Law tell us to rest, we are rejuvenated with the promise of His Gospel the forgiveness of our sins and our life everlasting in Him. So mark it in your day timer now, Sabbath day of rest. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matt 11:28)
Having said all that, we see that Jesus violated the Sabbath in today’s reading, well at least according to Pharisees. According to the Law, and at the point in time the Law was determined by the Pharisees, it was a violation of the Sabbath for Jesus to spit on the ground to make a little mud to anoint the blind man’s eyes. Jesus chose to do His “work” in this way in order to heal the man. We could imagine that He was trying to provoke a reaction by “working” and He got one. They accused Him saying “This man is not of God…” for, according to them, not keeping the Sabbath.
The truth is as Jesus points out, He is the Lord of the Sabbath (Matt 12:8), He can do what He wants. But it also raises an issue too, that there are those who feel they have a ministry of quibbling, as if it is somehow a legitimate pursuit to overlook good work, to find the one flaw, the blemish on an otherwise good face and try to deface the entire effort.
If we are called to do good works, we should do good works, if it’s on the Sabbath it’s no doubt within God’s will, let’s not quibble with someone if they’ve just done a good work. Jesus tells us that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. The Sabbath is always intended to be a time of rest, of rejuvenation, and Dr Veith also points out: “the Sabbath speaks to us of Christ. That God wants us to honor Him by not working is a reminder that we are not saved by our works,…” But maintain some perspective and don’t lose sight of what God is doing, as the Pharisees did when they were in the presence of God, Jesus the Son of God.
It is interesting to note that in our readings today, Jesus saying He is the light of the world, God telling Isaiah: “I will turn the darkness before them into light”, Paul telling us that we are children of light and that we worship on “Sunday”. We are children of light, we do need to remember the Lord in a day of rest and worship, we do need to do good works and not to tear down another’s good efforts, but help them and encourage them in their work. But the Sabbath is also a time that God gives us in order to separate from the world, the day in and day out, the things that hound us and turns us to Him in worship. We need to detach from the world on a regular basis and come to Him for rest, relief, hope, promise, restoration. You do not get this anywhere else but in the church. When we trust in God to turn to Him on a regular basis, once every seven days seems to be a minimum, He gives us what we need to return to the world truly renewed, restored in Him and ready to deal with what the world dishes out.
When we don’t do that, when we trust in what we want, what the world pushes us to do, after awhile we find that the world has ground us down and convinced us that there is no hope. We find that we have been detached from the Sabbath, which is detachment from the church and then detached from the hope and promise in Jesus. It is a commandment that we are not good about honoring, take some time this week, do it with the rest of the family, how can you make the Sabbath more family honoring and therefore more God honoring.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom