Explore the Bible Study: Reigns

10:36 PM

 

Do you have a membership or a reward program in which you participate or to which you belong? It might be a gym membership, a shopping membership, or a hotel rewards club. If you do, what are some of the rules you have to follow or observe? Have you ever had someone correct you when you didn’t follow the rules? How did you respond? Luke 6:1-11 of the Explore the Bible Study: Reigns, focuses on conflicts that arose when Jesus didn’t follow all the man-made rules and rituals that had become a part of Sabbath.

The Jewish religious leaders during Jesus' day had created a system of control that totally missed the purpose of the Sabbath. Because Jesus addressed the way the Sabbath had been misused and clarifies how we should view the Sabbath, there needs to be an understanding of the background regarding the Sabbath command.

Exodus 20:8 tells us to Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  This 4th command included in the 10 Commandments that were given to Moses by God. There are three R words that will help you understand the purpose of this command:

  1. Remember – We are commanded not to forget this day. It’s a day to remember God’s creation and His salvation. For the Israelites, the day was to honor Almighty God, the God of creation and to recount the story of deliverance God provided for them when He saved them from the bondage of Egyptian slavery and brought them to the Promised Land. In the Old Testament period, death was the penalty for violating this commandment (Exodus 35:1–3). We too, as believers, should set aside a day each week to remember that the God of creation has delivered us from the bondage of sin and restored us into a right relationship with Him.
  2. Rest – The word “sabbath” comes from the Hebrew “shabbat,” meaning “to cease” or “desist.” The primary meaning is to cease from all work or to rest. Sabbath also means “seven;” therefore, it was to be observed on the 7th day of the week just as God rested on the Seventh day of creation. We should stop and rest with God. We should rest in the salvation which He has provided. And, yes, we should set time or a day aside in order to focus on this rest or sabbath.
  3. Revere – The Sabbath day is declared holy by God (see Exodus 20:11); therefore, it should be revered as holy. The word holy means to “consecrate,” “set apart,” or “sanctify.” Believers should strive to practice setting aside or setting apart a Sabbath day, and it should be revered or given the reverence it is due because it is a holy day. Additionally, we should strive daily to be holy in all our conduct because God commands us to Be holy, because [HE] is holy (1 Peter 1:16) - we have been set apart, consecrated, and sanctified.

What we must understand about the Sabbath is something Jesus is going to teach us today. It’s a day that is to shape our entire week and how we live our faith daily. We are to remember the work of Christ daily, we are to rest in His salvation daily, and we are to revere holiness daily. While we set aside a day for Sabbath, which today includes a time for gathering with other believers in corporate worship and Bible study, everyday should be an expression of the Sabbath in the life of the believer. 

This brings us to the conflict in today’s passage between Jesus and the Scribes and Pharisees. During the period leading up to Jesus’ arrival, the Sabbath had become the heart of the law, and the prohibitions were expanded. The 39 plus man-made rules that were added to God’s commands had created a climate of legalism and control. The day had ceased to be a day to remember, rest, and revere, and had become a day to control, call out, and correct those who violated all the expanded rules. In the process, the commandment to love God and love others was forgotten. Jesus plans to clarify this!

3 Questions Answered

There are three questions that Jesus will answer regarding the Sabbath day itself. While the questions weren't asked directly to Him, He will bring clarity regarding certain views of the Sabbath.
  1. Is it wrong to work on the Sabbath? - Luke 6:1-4. The disciples were picking heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating them because they were hungry! Their actions did not constitute pilfering or stealing; they were just easing their hunger. But the Pharisees believed the disciples were doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath. The specific action was not the issue, but rather the fact that it occurred on the Sabbath. Moses forbade work on the Sabbath, but the question was, “What constituted work?” The Pharisees equated the plucking of the grain with harvesting. Similarly, rubbing the grain in order to separate it from the husks was the same as winnowing. This interpretation was not specified in Mosaic law but was an application of Jewish tradition. Jesus used the example from the Old Testament of David feeding his men to refute the rules that the religious leaders were trying to leverage over His disciples. Some people are interested in maintaining religious tradition above all else. Like these Pharisees, we can fall into the trap of failing to see the spiritual intention behind the laws. In addition, we can miss the point that some people simply need to work because they are trying to put food on their table. Or, perhaps we have become so callous to those around us who are hungry that we are more interested in keeping our rituals instead of reaching out to the hungry among us.
  2. Who is really in charge of the Sabbath? - Luke 6:5. Jesus emphatically stated that He had the authority to overrule the Pharisees’ traditions and regulations because He had created the Sabbath, and the Creator is always greater than the creation. Jesus claimed the authority to correctly interpret the meaning of the Sabbath and all the laws pertaining to it. Who created the Sabbath? God did. Therefore, because Jesus, the Son of Man, is God’s Son, given authority and power by God himself, then he is also Lord of the Sabbath.
  3. Are we doing good on the Sabbath? - Luke 6:6-11. The Pharisees were concerned only to see whether Jesus would heal the man on the Sabbath. It’s unfortunate that they could not rejoice in a healing; instead, they hoped to use the healing to bring a charge against Jesus. It was more important for them to protect their laws than to free a person from suffering. For those leaders, protecting their tradition was more important than alleviating human suffering. 
Jesus asked the religious leaders in verse 9, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do what is good or to do what is evil, to save life or to destroy it?” How would you answer this question? Is there any religious ritual that you practice that might communicate the opposite of what you know is the right answer?

Notice the sad response by the religious leaders when this man was miraculously healed. Luke 6:11 tells us they were filled with rage
  • If someone is miraculously saved on Sunday but the event robs you of your time in a restaurant, how do you respond? 
  • If the service goes too long, but people are responding to Christ, how do you respond? 
  • If the music is too loud or of a different tradition, but people are coming to the Lord and being spiritually healed, how do you respond? 
  • If a schedule makes you uncomfortable, but people’s lives are changed, how do you respond? 
  • If the Covid mask issue offends you one way or the other, how is that going to impact your ability to share and show the good news of Jesus to others in your community?
  • If staying home during this pandemic has caused you to drift away from remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy, consider how it will impact you and others to which God has called you to be a witness.
Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, no matter what we assume or try to control. Christian legalism can’t stop the Sabbath; Christian excuses regarding the Sabbath can't stop the Sabbath. Governments regulations can't stop the Sabbath. Jesus is still Lord of the Sabbath. The only question is, “How are we going to ‘remember the Sabbath and keep it holy’?”

When we view the Sabbath as a checklist or as a means to receive God’s salvation instead of a way of remembering, resting, and revering the work of God through Christ to bring salvation, then we have missed the point of Sabbath and we will miss the opportunities God gives us to minister to others on this very special day and on every day God gives us on this earth.

Don’t miss the opportunities God gives you to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy!

Downloadable Study Helps

The Bible study helps have been modified in order to provide opportunities for both online and face-to-face teaching venues. Ideas in boxes will be provided for engaging groups more when meeting in person. The boxed items could also be modified and used for online discussion as well. 

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