Lord of the Sabbath
May 22, 2012 § Leave a comment
What is this REST that Jesus offers?
When Jesus declares: “and I will give you Rest” the Jews of his time would have heard echoes of Genesis and Exodus. The Sabbath Rest. The Promise of Rest. Wholeness and healing. Safety and security. Absence of oppression. A Merciful Heart ~ like His.
And note that just prior to this offer to all of us, Matthew’s gospel has Jesus declare that God has placed everything in his hands:
27All things have been handed over to me by my Father…
And this quote is significant. For it links with John’s Gospel:
And during supper 3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.
Note the similarities in both Gospels at this point. We have Jesus declaring his indwelling union with the Father, which includes a “handing over” of everything and a tender care for everyone. A gift of self. A share in Divinity. For it not only relates to Christ’s Lordship over everything, but in both places its context is one of Christ’s humility, his desire to share His LIFE with us. His self-emptying servanthood, meant to teach us to do the same.
So when Jesus says to us: “Come to me… take my yoke…” he not not only offers to join us to himself, but he thereby asks that we too become “callers” and “carriers” – people who offer ourselves, who offer to share the burdens and the suffering of others. To bring wholeness and healing, Sabbath Rest, to a broken world.
Indeed, immediately following this in-gathering Call in Matthew’s Gospel, Christ explicitly declares himself Lord of the Sabbath:
12At that time Jesus went through the cornfields on the sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2When the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, ‘Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath.’ 3He said to them, ‘Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4He entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him or his companions to eat, but only for the priests. 5Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests in the temple break the sabbath and yet are guiltless? 6I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. 7But if you had known what this means, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice”, you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8For the Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.’
Lord of the Sabbath – another Name of God that Jesus shares with the Father. But there is more in those words above. For Jesus, in declaring that the priests are above the sabbath (that they can “break” the law of the sabbath), is reminding us of our own priesthood. The priesthood of our Baptism.
Sabbath. Rest. Liberation from the Law. Reminder of our share in his priesthood.