Introduction: Easter Sabbath
Good morning everybody.
Last week, we learnt what Christians say at Easter:
“the Lord is risen!” – what do you answer?
“He is risen indeed.”
The last three weeks in Global, we have been talking about
the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Today we are getting back to our main topic this year.
the life of Jesus, from the gospel of Luke in the Bible.
Four weeks ago, I said, to learn more from global this year, why don’t you read right through Luke.
Did anybody try that over the Easter holidays?
In our last two messages from Luke, Jesus argued with the Pharisees.
The Pharisees were strong and strict religious leaders.
Today we have an even bigger fight.
Things are getting pretty hot.
Who drove a car to church today?
Who carried a bag?
Got a cellphone or keys in your pocket?
Everyone? Oh no! You guys need to hear today’s message.
If the Pharisees were here, you would be in big trouble!
Let’s turn to Luke.
************ Luke 6:1-5 page 785.[i]
when you are studying for exams, who likes to make a star diagram?
The most important word in the middle, with lines showing other ideas that connect.[ii]
The big word here is “Sabbath”
it connects several important ideas in the Bible.
So we need to look at the Old Testament story
– the first part of the Bible from before Jesus came.
here’s a preview of our Sabbath star diagram:
three big concepts: Creation, Exodus, Messiah.
Three big commands: rest, remember, release.
Some big words – don’t worry if you don’t know them yet.
Life: the Creation
on the very first page of the Bible, we read that
God made the universe – the sky, the earth, the sea.
Day by day, he created more things: plants, birds, animals, fish,
on the sixth day, God made the first human beings, Adam and Eve.
Everything was beautiful and perfect.
The first chapter ends like this:
Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!
So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed.
On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work.
And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy.
the seventh day is the Sabbath
The word Sabbath means to stop.
God made everything, he gave us life,
true spiritual life in relationship with Him.
and then God stopped working and rested because creation was completed.
There is the first big connection on our Star diagram: Sabbath and creation, Sabbath and life.
Two weeks ago, 4J gave us a very powerful drama.
Kristine was like the first woman, “Eve”
she was dancing with God.
She was happy and beautiful.
totally alive and free – that’s what God made us to be.
But then came the forces of evil,
all those people with white masks on their faces.
They dragged her away from God into an ugly dance
a dance of death
she became a slave – she wasn’t free anymore
That’s just what happened in Genesis chapter 3
God made the world to be very good.
But now it had a lot of bad – including things like earthquakes and tsunamis.
Now people kill each other and make each other slaves.
Freedom: the Exodus
That’s what is happening in the second book of the Bible: Exodus.
the people of Israel are slaves in Egypt.
They are working very hard to make bricks for building.
It is hot in the sun, they want to rest.
But the Egyptians shout, “work harder!”
God saw how unhappy they were.
he sent a man called Moses.
There was a big fight between Moses, or God, and the King of Egypt.
Like a fantasy action movie
finally the King of Egypt let God’s people go.
When you want to get out, you look for a sign that says “exit”
that’s why this book is called Exodus – the way out.
God rescued them from slavery!
He gave them a way out!
Moses led the people to Mount Sinai.
God gave them lots of rules,
they make up the law of Moses,
– the law that the Pharisees and Jesus are arguing about in Luke.
the most famous rules are the 10 commandments
number four is about the Sabbath:
********* Exodus 20: 8-11 page 59
8 “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 You have six days each week for your ordinary work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.
There it is again: Sabbath and Creation.
Keeping the Sabbath holy means treating it like a special day, resting from our normal work,
like God did in Genesis.
Keep your finger in Exodus 20, and turn to
********* Deuteronomy 5:12-15 page 144
Here is a second list of the 10 commandments.
It is nearly the same as Exodus,
do you see the difference?
It’s the reason for the Sabbath at the end.
Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm. That is why the Lord your God has commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day.
In Exodus 20, Sabbath is about Creation.
In Deuteronomy 5, it is about the Exodus
There’s the first two concepts on our Star diagram.
Creation and Exodus, life and freedom
and there are two big Sabbath commands: rest and remember
rest on the Sabbath, stop your normal work.
remember what God has done for you.
God gives us new life and freedom from slavery
he wants us to live our lives as free people,
And help others to become free too.
In fact, God also gave Israel commands for the Sabbath year:[iii]
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he may serve for no more than six years. Set him free in the seventh year.
At the end of every seventh year you must cancel the debts of everyone who owes you money.
A debt is when you owe a lot of money and you can’t pay.
That’s a sort of slavery too – and God wants us to be free.
On the Sabbath day, God said to rest and remember.
I set you free, now you set others free.
On the Sabbath year, God said to release people from debt and slavery.
There’s our three commands.
Hope: the Messiah
God wants us to be Sabbath people, resting and remembering and releasing,
Why? So we can be truly alive and free.
The sad thing is, the people of Israel didn’t do too well at that.
Like Adam and Eve, they often turned away from God.
They became physically and spiritually slaves.
They needed to be rescued again
around 1000 BC, God gave the people of Israel their first great King.
And he had a really great name – King David! – With a name like that, how could they go wrong?
everything was pretty good for a while.
But David wasn’t perfect.
it didn’t last.
Israel disobeyed God and was attacked by stronger countries.
By the time of Jesus, the Romans were ruling over Israel – the people were not free.
It all seemed pretty depressing,
But the people had a hope:
Through the Old Testament, God made promises.
He promised that one day a much greater King would come,
a descendant of King David, like David’s great great great grandson.
So they called him the Son of David.
this great King would rescue the people.
He would put everything right that is wrong.
They called this King that God promised – the Messiah.
When the Son of David, the Messiah, comes,
all of Creation would have new life – no more earthquakes or tsunamis.
everybody would be free – no more slavery or debts.
What a hope!
On the Sabbath, Jews still look forward to the time of the Messiah.
All week long, they look forward to the Sabbath day.
They welcome it like a bride or a queen
they celebrate it like a royal wedding!
They eat special yummy foods, they wear their nicest clothes.
All of this gives them a taste of what heaven is like
It only lasts for one day, but it points to the everlasting Sabbath of heaven when the Messiah comes.
There’s our star diagram:
the Sabbath is all about Creation, Exodus, Messiah.
Resting and remembering, looking back to what God has done, releasing people to be free now.
Looking forward to the Messiah.
Life, freedom, hope.
the 10 commandments said to stop work on the Sabbath day
so we won’t be so busy working that we forget.
Look at what God said later in the Old Testament:
“If you obey me, says the Lord, and do not work on the Sabbath day, and if you keep it holy… There will always be a descendant of David sitting on the throne here in Jerusalem…
But if you do not listen to me and refuse to keep the Sabbath holy… then I will set fire to these gates. … no one will be able to put out the roaring flames.”
the descendant of David – that’s the Messiah, God’s promised King.
Still, today, Jewish people believe that if they kept one Sabbath 100% perfectly, the Messiah would come.
But Jeremiah said, if they reject God by working on the Sabbath,
God will reject them – the people will be slaves again, and Jerusalem will burn.
You can see why the Jewish people were very careful on the Sabbath.
They made many rules and regulations to make sure they did not accidentally do any work.
Jesus: the Lord of the Sabbath
In the New Testament of the Bible,
The Pharisees were the experts in these rules – hundreds of little things you must not do on the Sabbath.
Remember what Jeremiah said:
If God’s people work on the Sabbath, Jerusalem will burn!
Here is this religious leader, Jesus, letting his followers break the Sabbath rules.
The Pharisees were angry!
When they complain, notice what Jesus said. Luke 6:3-5
Jesus compares himself and his disciples to King David and his followers.
And he calls himself, “the Lord of the Sabbath”.
What do you think that means?
Could Jesus be the Son of David they were waiting for?
Let’s continue reading and see if we can find out.
************* Luke 6:6-11 page 786
The Pharisees really wanted to keep God’s rules – that’s a good thing in itself.
They knew all about the little things you must not do on the Sabbath
But they forgot the big things: the real purpose and meaning of the Sabbath.
they forgot about life and freedom and hope.
Jesus asked them,
is the Sabbath day for doing good or evil? Luke 6:9
For bringing life or death?
For setting people free or making them slaves?[iv]
all through his life on earth, Jesus lived out the true meaning of Sabbath.
He released people from slavery so they were free,
he brought them new life – spiritually and physically
he healed people of diseases.
He freed them from evil powers.
He forgave people for the wrong things they had done, setting them free from the past.
Jesus lived the Sabbath, and at the end of his life all the big Sabbath ideas really come together.
Easter is like the centre of the star diagram
On Good Friday, Jesus died on the cross.[v]
On his head was a crown of thorns, and over his head was a sign that said,
“Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
The people who wrote it thought it was a joke, but actually it was true:
Jesus is the Son of David, God’s promised King, the Messiah, our hope.
In a way, that sign on the cross said “Exit”
if you are a slave, trapped in sin
here, through Jesus’ death, is the exit, the Exodus, the way out to freedom.[vi]
the Jewish people remember how God defeated the King of Egypt
and set them physically free from slavery.
Christians remember how Jesus defeated the devil, Satan,
to set us spiritually free from the power of evil.
Two weeks ago, Mike talked about that.
In the drama by 4J
Kristine was a slave to those evil things with the white masks.
But Jesus set her free. [vii]
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
on Easter Sunday Jesus rose from the dead
it was like the first day of God’s new Creation. [viii]
He had a new, perfect body that will never die.
Now we look forward to the time when Jesus comes again,
And sets all of Creation free from slavery – no more earthquakes or tsunamis
he will make our old bodies that get sick and die
like his glorious new body – everlasting life with God.[ix]
That’s our hope in Christ.
Grace: Resting in God’s Finished Work
For Jewish people today, it is still very important to not work on the Sabbath, our Saturday
if you’re a strict Jew, you can’t use a cell phone, you can’t spend any money,
you can’t even carry any things like money or keys or phones.
a few years ago I went to a Sabbath service at the synagogue in Auckland.
A lady told me about a website
I was getting my pen to write it down.
She said, “don’t write!”
Last year, I went to a big American Jewish website. (www.artscroll.com)
I wanted to buy a book.
But it was Saturday, and the website was closed.
It just had a message: no selling on the Sabbath
those things might sound silly, even like the Pharisees.
But if we understand the purpose behind the rules, it’s beautiful.
the Sabbath concept is something we really need in our lives.
Most of the time, most of us are very busy.
We are always running around.
The “to do” list is never finished.
I mostly walk quickly – I’ve always got to be somewhere and get something done.
There is no time to look around.
We can become slaves to our watch.
We study long hours, and we work hard to make money,
so we can be safe and secure, have a good future, and a good life.
We judge people by what they achieve:
how much work they do, how much money they make
it’s easy to think everything depends on me and what I do.
God told the people of Israel, on the seventh day, stop!
Stop running around like headless chickens
Stop trying so hard to control your life.
Stop acting like your safety, your security, your salvation depends on what you do.
Rest from your work,
“be still and know that I am God”
remember what I have given you
enjoy my beautiful world.
It’s important to have regular “Sabbath” times in our life to rest in God and remember.
many Christians have a “quiet time” every day to read the bible, pray, listen to God.
But here’s the most important thing today:
Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath.
So really, the Sabbath concept is the Christian message:[x]
Stop working so hard in your own strength to please God or get to heaven.
Forget what you do and remember what Jesus has done for you at Easter.
Like a little child, trust him to look after you.
You don’t have to do anything.
Rest in his forgiveness and freedom.
And then go and help release others.
Forgive them as Jesus has forgiven you.
Show them the life and hope Jesus gives you.
Everlasting life, true freedom, new hope.[xi]
That’s what the Sabbath is all about.
That’s what Jesus is all about.
Jesus is the center of the Sabbath star.
Questions: Lord of the Sabbath
How does the Old Testament connect the Sabbath to:
Creation and life.
Exodus and freedom.
Messiah and hope.
Why were the Pharisees angry at Jesus?
How does Jesus fulfil the real meaning of the Sabbath?
Has Jesus given you new life, freedom and hope?
What can you do to rest and remember God’s finished work?
And to help release others too?
[i] one website delightfully titled this passage, “Jesus goes against the grain of Phariseeism”!
[ii] See www.wordle.net to make word frequency pictures.
For six years you may plant your fields … but during the seventh year the land must have a Sabbath year of complete rest. It is the Lord’s Sabbath…
you must count off seven Sabbath years, seven sets of seven years, adding up to forty-nine years in all… In the fiftieth year, blow the horn loud and long throughout the land. Set this year apart as holy, a time to proclaim freedom throughout the land for all who live there. It will be a jubilee year for you
Leviticus 25:3-4, 8-10.
Jubilee came from the Hebrew word for the horn, the trumpet that they blew.
but in English, Jubilee or jubilation means joy and celebration.
In Luke 4:19, Jesus proclaims “the year of the Lord’s favour”-the freedom year of Jubilee!
[iv] A few chapters later in Luke, there is a similar story to today. In the synagogue on the Sabbath is a woman who is bent over, crippled with an evil spirit. Jesus touches her, and for the first time after 18 years, she can stand up straight. again, the religious leaders are angry. But Jesus says:
“This dear woman… has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years.
Isn’t it right that she be set free on the Sabbath day?”
[v] Just before he died, Jesus said. “It is finished.” John 19:30 Jesus had finished his work, like God in Genesis.
[vi] at Jesus’ Transfiguration, “They spoke about his Exodus, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.” Luke 9:31
[vii] So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. John 8:36
[viii] Sometimes Christians called Sunday the eighth Day, the first day of the new creation, or “the Lord’s Day” (Revelation 1:10)
[ix] Romans 8:21, Philippians 3:21
[x] See Hebrews 4:9-10
[xi] “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free” Psalm 119:32