Then [Jesus] said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Rest for Our Souls
The word “Sabbath” means “rest.” When God created the world, he “worked” for six days, and on the seventh day he rested, he stopped his work of creation. Therefore, in the Old Testament church God commanded his people to work for six days, and on the seventh day (the Sabbath day), they were to rest. On that Sabbath day, they rested in the Word of God. Yes, even back then, it was a temptation to work nonstop and get so busy with earthly things that they would neglect the Word of God.
In Jesus’ day, the local teachers of the law had made the day of rest into a day of rule-following, not a day of rest in God’s Word. They had multiplied the requirements and rules, adding all kinds of details as to what defined “work” and what defined “rest.” If you kept the man-made rules, you were to be proud of yourself. If you failed to keep the rules, you lived in guilt.
Here’s the problem: Seeking rest through following rules is never restful!
Jesus set them straight. He said that he was the one in charge of the Sabbath, not human beings making up their own rules. And Jesus came to give us rest for our souls. We could never keep God’s law so well that we can find rest in what we have accomplished. But Jesus kept it in our place. Then he died in our place for our failures. And he promises that because he has done it all, we can confidently look forward to heavenly rest by faith in him.
That’s why we take time to rest in the Word—not to follow a rule, but to honor our Savior. Jesus invites us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). We thank him for the rest we have now and look forward to the eternal rest that he has provided.
Dear Lord, thank you for the rest you have provided for my conscience. Give me peace as I look forward to the eternal rest that lies in the future, all thanks to you. Amen.