Lord of the Sabbath

January 14, 2009

A few posts ago, I pondered about Sabbath.  God did not need to rest; rather, Sabbath was meant for us.  It is puzzling then, why Jesus used the title “Lord of Sabbath” to refer to himself.  (This designation is found in the three synoptic Gospel, and so it’s probably pretty significant.)  Even more puzzling is the fact that in all three accounts he prefixed it with the Son of Man.  Why do these two titles go hand in hand?  Doesn’t the ‘Lord’ part go better with, I dunno, “Son of God”, or maybe even “Prince of Peace”??  But no, he goes with “The Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath.”

There are so many layers to this text.  It’s talking about how Jesus is the new priest, and so it lawful for Him to eat; that Jesus is the one who gives this bread to others; that Jesus is greater than the things Jews held sacred (like the Sabbath or the temple); and of how He’s once again condemning legalism of the Pharisees.

But if we focus on the title that Jesus used, it shows both the human and the divine nature of Christ.  The “Son of Man” part is pretty self-explanatory.  The Lord of the Sabbath part?  When the Israelites were first ordered to take the Sabbath off, they were told to do so because God did the same thing.  Sabbath, originated from God; it is meant as a day where we reflect upon Him and what He has done.  And so even though God himself did not need rest, the Sabbath itself became a symbol of the rest we can find in God, instead of just another day in a week.

And if we tie all these different layers together, we can come to an understanding that God is taking this temporal, literal Sabbath, and redeeming it back to Himself.  What God created as declared as ‘good’, men have corrupted.  Jesus came to take it back in to His kingdom;  He came to conquer and claim it as His own once again.  In this we see the kingship of God, displayed through the incarnation of Christ.  In this we can glimpse into the plan of redemption of the whole of the natural order.

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