The word “shabath” is Hebrew verb means “to rest from labor” or the day for rest from the day to day labor of life. The early account of sabbath is found in the book of Genesis as says Genesis (2:2) it was mad fro man so that he can rest and to refresh his body and soul, it was mentioned when man was innocent in the garden of Eden1. This essay’s concern is to elaborate the meaning of sabbath in the teaching of Christ and to see its relevance in our present day lives as well an overview of its historical background from Old Testament.
In the book of Exodus God says “remember the sabbath and keep it holy” as other six days of the week are for labor and this day for rest, it is among the ten commandments, the words coming direct from God in his own words. Furthermore, according to the Old Testament the penalty is death if you defile this commandment5. According to Old Testament it was meant to be respected and followed and considered most important among Ten Commandments. Why God wants us to follow the sabbath? I referred earlier to the first mention of the Sabbath, we find its account in Genesis right after God completed the creation of sex days, at the seventh day God ceased to work and blessed the seventh day as holy, done nothing on the sabbath day and felt happy to see his creation. In order to understand the significance of sabbath we need to see it in a broader social perspective, the concept of sabbbath is about turning aside the petty routine of daily life and offer ourselves for the highest spiritual pursuits, spiritual enrichment and rest are the core features of the idea and practice of sabbath3. In the following discussion we will the radical transformation it went through leading to Christ’s teaching of sabbath.
The first reference of sabbath is in gospel of Luke when Jesus Christ entered the synagogue to teach on the day of sabbath5. Luke says that it was among his costumes to go to the synogogue on the day of sabbath. We have already seen Old Testament view on sabbath, hence, the Pharisees turned red at this violation and consequently they turned against Jesus. Therefore, there started a conflict between the rigged regularities of the Pharisees and the Christ’s insistence on the flexibility of the commandment of God. For Christ the day of sabbath is made for man, not that the man is made for sabbath5. There are almost 39 principles classes of prohibition such as grinding, winnowing, threshing, and plowing and so on. Jesus’ teaching on sabbath also indicates his position as God, that he possess the power to change the law. For some people the deliberate use of his violation of the day of sabbath was to indicate that it is no longer mandatory. While other argue that Christ was observing the sabbath in private but deliberately breaking it for the sake of giving importance to other commandments of equal importance. Jesus performed miracles on the day of sabbath that inflicted anger among Pharisees because the miracles did not bother them what really angered them was the blasphemous nature of his argument when he justifies his actions by saying that God did the same on the day of sabbath, hence, he works on the day of sabbath because “[his] father is working till now”5.
In order to understand this inherent conflict we need to reconsider Christ’s agenda regarding the true nature and significance of sabbath2. For instance, by violating the day of sabbath Christ is following God, now, the question rises that what kind violation did by God, he rested from the labor of creation and his rest is physical, God has done making the world but it does not refer to the inactivity of salvation and help and cure for the diseased as God works endlessly and effortlessly. Therefore, Jesus abled to spot an inherent flaw in the intellectual authorities of the time by bringing out the true purpose of the sabbath and its significance in our lives. Because the six days of the week are devoted to the endless physical labor, the seventh day must be devoted to the people in need of redemption and cure for their diseases2. Bu working like God, by following God’s actions we can prove ourselves the children of God and can participate in the divine feast1. By doing this Christ provided the practical grounds of the words of God and revealed the original purpose of divine word misconstrued by the Pharisees by rigged religious regulations. For Pharisees synagogue was a place of “devotion to the law” rather than a convent where one celebrates one’s relation with the God1. Jesus Christ came to revive that lost connection between man and God, hence, the first step was to reject the religious conventionalities and set culture in order to pave the path of love and compassion.
Jesus’ teaching on sabbath reveals some of the core features of religious teaching, for Christ the rules and regulations are made for the benefits of human being not trouble them. Furthermore, he also emphasis the practical purposes of religion which are timeless, even today we are able draw lessons from his teaching regarding sabbath. By acknowledging the true sensibility of sabbath we can improve our lives in love and compassion towards other human beings as well as God.
- DURKEN, D. (2009). The New Collegeville Bible commentary. Collegeville, Minn, Liturgical Press. http://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=4837474.
- Horbury, William. “Jesus, the Sabbath and the Jewish Debate: Healing on the Sabbath in the First and Second Centuries CE, written by Nina L. Collins.” Novum Testamentum 58.4 (2016): 411-414.
- Jesus Christ and the Sabbath. United Church of God. 2018. Available at: https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/sunset-to-sunset-gods-sabbath-rest/jesus-christ-and-the-sabbath. Accessed April 11, 2018.
- Sabbath. Eastonsbibledictionaryorg. 2018. Available at: http://eastonsbibledictionary.org/3170-Sabbath.php. Accessed April 11, 2018.
- The Holy Bible, New International Version. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Bible Publishers; 1978.