Then [Jesus] said to them, “The Sabbath was made to benefit people, and not people to benefit the Sabbath. And I, the Son of Man, am master even of the Sabbath!” — Mark 2:27-28
“Thank God it’s Friday” is a common sentiment in the workplace. Not that Fridays are any different from other days; the sun rises and sets as usual! It’s just that on Friday the workweek ends and the weekend begins.
It was not always like this. The Scriptures say, “Six days a week are set apart for your daily duties and regular work but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God” (Exodus 20:9-10). This is one of the Ten Commandments, and the Jewish people understood the reasoning behind it: God created the world in six days but rested on the seventh, and man should do the same. Accordingly, they were forbidden to do any work on the Sabbath, and they defined work by listing 39 prohibited actions. And the penalty for breaking this law was death!
One Sabbath day, while Jesus and His disciples were busy about the work of the kingdom, the disciples picked some wheat and ate it as they traveled. This was technically “reaping”—one of the 39 activities prohibited by the rabbis. Jesus appeared to be in contravention of basic Jewish law, so His opponents challenged him. He replied that the Sabbath was made for the benefit of man and, therefore, it was appropriate for His hungry disciples to be fed. Then, to the anger of His opponents, He said, “And I, the Son of Man, am master even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28).
Christians now celebrate a “sabbath”—a day of rest and worship—on the first day of the week, in commemoration of Christ’s resurrection. The first day of the week was called “the Lord’s Day” in New Testament times (see Rev. 1:10). But what matters to secular people is not a day of rest in honor of the Creator who rested from His work, but a weekend away from work and freedom to do whatever they wish.
Jesus said that He is master even of the Sabbath, and the Sabbath is made for man’s well-being. If Jesus’ words are to be applied for modern people, surely they mean that our times of rest from work should be lived in conscious recognition not only of the Creator who rested, but also of His Son who rose again. Such recognition would lead to worship and service as a prime weekend activity. This would not only serve to renew weary people after the struggles of the previous week, but also would refresh them with spiritual energy with which to face the new week.
When that happens, the refreshed and renewed can’t wait to get back to work. They may even be heard saying as they go, “Thank God it’s Monday”!
For further study: Mark 2:23–3:6
Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.