The most intimate conversations with my wife tend to happen when we are out for a walk – away from the phone, the TV, the dishes, etc. Something about the pace of walking together draws us closer. Taking the time for that, periodically, breaks the gradual crescendo of stress and distraction of daily life and helps us re-connect. God knew that principle and blessed us by commanding us to periodically observe a Sabbath rest. Think of the Sabbath as God saying, “Hey, let’s go for a walk together…”
But then the religious authorities (an oxymoron?) layered the Sabbath with so many do’s and don’ts that their rules actually separated people from the heart of God. The Sabbath became a burden instead of a rest and time of re-connection. Naturally, Jesus’ approach to the Sabbath caused conflict, especially among those who tried to use religion as a way to control others. Jesus said, “Come to Me and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). That, in a nutshell, is the idea of the Sabbath! But an invitation like that was a threat to the makers and enforcers of strict religious rules.
“Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.” (Matthew 12:9-14)
I wonder if they called their meeting on the Sabbath? No doubt. Do you need rest? Do you wish you could be close to God? Stay away from people like that. Go to Jesus. Find your Sabbath rest in Him. He said,
…“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6b)