While this is not the place to go into all the detail of the biblical teachings regarding the Sabbath, suffice to say it involved two main aspects: (1) physical rest, and (2) spiritual service. On its most basic level, the Sabbath was intended to provide rest for the weary human being. Certainly the cruel taskmasters in
Yet, the Sabbath was never just about physical rest. It also served, perhaps primarily, as a visible reminder to concentrate our hearts, bodies, and minds in love of God. When the Pharisees questioned why Jesus allowed his disciples to harvest food on the Sabbath he makes the astonishing claim that he is the “Lord of the Sabbath”. The Sabbath is all about him, he “owns” it. In other words, activities associated with Christ and his kingdom-mission are not only allowed on the Sabbath, they are exactly the type of activity for which the Sabbath was intended. By serving Jesus, Jesus disciples were automatically keeping the Sabbath.
The Lord’s Day is meant to be a day of activity, which is celebrated by fulfilling the commission the Lord has given us. Perhaps the worst way to keep the Sabbath is to take a Sunday afternoon nap (though that isn’t all bad—it actually sounds quite good). Idleness perhaps offers us physical rest, but it doesn’t unite us spiritually with our Lord. Historically, the Christian church used the Lord’s Day to care for the sick and poor, minister to prisoners, and comfort the afflicted.
Far from breaking the Sabbath, pastors (and all who volunteer in their local churches) are fully keeping it.
[Note 1] I recognize the historical Christians struggle regarding the applicability of Sabbath for the Church. I view the Christian Sabbath—called the Lord’s Day in Scripture—as being Sunday. While there are some who still maintain Saturday as the Sabbath, or worse yet attempt to do-away with the Sabbath altogether under the pretense of its inapplicability to the “church-age”, I firmly believe the Sabbath—which is now Sunday for Christians—is still normative and binding for believers.
Questions for Pastor Josh can be submitted via Email. "Faith Questions" is a feature in the monthly newsletter of Indian River Baptist Church. This blog republishes those Questions, along with others not selected for print publication.