Deuteronomy 5:12-15; 2 Corinthians 4:5-12; Mark 2:23-3:6

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I love a day off as much as anyone. There’s nothing better than knowing on any particular day that I don’t have any work or responsibilities claiming my day. A day of rest is a day where we’re meant to do as little as needed. Psychology even shows us that this is necessary for our physical and mental health. Too many busy days in a row isn’t good for us. We need rest.

This is the reason for the third commandment, “Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.” God gave it as a reminder for us to take a break, to rest and relax. We need a constant reminder not to overwork ourselves. Yet, it’s meant for much more than simple rest. For resting doesn’t mean a day to lay in bed or sit on the couch all day. Resting is so much more.

In our Gospel lesson this week, the Pharisees accuse Jesus and his disciples of breaking this great commandment of God. For the Pharisees had come up with numerous rules that had to be followed in order to keep the Sabbath. “And the Pharisees were saying to [Jesus], ‘Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” Mark 2:24. For the Pharisees, resting entailed following all of their rules. Don’t walk too far. Don’t lift too much. Don’t do any work whatsoever. By trying to keep the law, the Pharisees perverted the law. Rest isn’t meant to become a burden or obstacle.

Just like the Pharisees, we regularly pervert the law to our own intent. We twist the intent of the law to our own benefit. We’ve made the law so that it burdens, hinders, and kills. This was the case for the man with a withered hand. The Pharisees insisted that the Sabbath meant they couldn’t do anything to help. Likewise, we regularly treat the law as an excuse not to do the right thing. For so Jesus asked, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” Mark 3:3. The Pharisees’ silence to Jesus’ question condemns them.

Keeping the Sabbath holy isn’t a command to rest and do nothing. It’s a command and call to hear God’s word and respond in faith. Proper rest isn’t found in doing nothing, but by being with the one who does everything for us. Jesus corrects the Pharisees when he says, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath,” Mark 2:27-28. The rest we need most of all is rest for our souls, rest that can only be found in God. For Jesus keeps the law perfectly to show us the true intent of God’s law. The law was given for life, defending and protecting it! Jesus fulfills all the demands of the law upon us by his holy life and even more by his sacrificial death. Jesus dies so that he may forgive us our sins and grant to us eternal life! This is what it means that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. He is our Lord that has fulfilled every responsibility, every demand of the law, and now gives us rest for our soul!

Pastor Sorenson


Eternal God, Your Son Jesus Christ is our true Sabbath rest. Help us to keep each day holy by receiving His Word of comfort that we may find our rest in Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen!