In Deuteronomy, the 10 Commandments that first appeared in the book of Exodus are repeated, and today’s lesson focuses on the command to keep the Sabbath (seventh day) as a day of rest. This commandment is “inclusive” in that neither slaves nor animals are permitted to work, and the Israelites are reminded that once they too were slaves. This point of social concern is grounded in the call to remember and honor the desires and words of the God who delivered them from Egyptian bondage.
In Mark 2, Jesus is challenged for allowing his disciples to work on the Sabbath when they are observed harvesting grain to eat. Jesus in turn challenges their literalism by noting how God’s anointed one, David, apparently broke the law in order to feed himself and his hungry companions. But he goes further, to declare his deep understanding of the meaning of the Sabbath. It is not a rule to keep blindly, but shows God’s desire for the well being of people. Further still, he makes the dramatic claim that he himself is in charge (lord) of the Sabbath!
In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul proclaims Jesus Christ as Lord. He and other Christians are “clay jars” that contain the light and power of God. Christians can indeed be afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, struck down, and given up to death as they proclaim Jesus as Lord. But in any and all circumstances, the life of Jesus is made visible, not by any human strength of ours, but by God’s own power within us.
Comment: Does the commandment to keep the Sabbath day make sense in our times? Since the other 9 commandments still challenge and make sense to me – how do I make sense of this one? Jesus shows me that creativity is permitted, and at the same time, I know personally that I do need Sabbath time to be renewed. My “Sabbath” has changed from when I was single, to when I was married, to when there were young children around, then teens, then the empty nest, then grandchildren! And what is the goal? Maybe, as with Paul, to be a person – a clay jar – that contains the light of God. I wonder if true Sabbath keeping, at whatever stage I’m in, might be whatever works that allows God to renew God’s life in me. How does that look for you right now?