It Was The Sabbath
It wasn't just any Sabbath. This was The Sabbath. It was the Sabbath that had never happened, not from the beginning of the world. This was it.
Let me explain:
We read about it in Genesis 2. "And on the 7th day God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the 7th day .... So God blessed the 7th day and made it holy ..."
But there is more. What was the Sabbath for? From our side there are 3 purposes for the Sabbath: 1) to stop from all the busy-ness, 2) to have time with God, and 3) to hear the words and receive the blessings of God.
We learn what the Sabbath was for from God's side when the Lord came walking in the garden in the cool of the day. He had 1) completed His work, and was there 2) to spend time with Adam and Eve, and He was there 3) to speak His promises and bring His blessings.
But the Sabbath had been broken. Adam and Eve had: 1) ignored the words and blessings of God, breaking His command and defying Him, 2) gone back to work, sewing clothes out of fig leaves, and 3) hid from God refusing to have fellowship with Him. And so with every Sabbath ever since. The entire human race was rebellious, violent, out of harmony with God, hiding from Him, denying His words and blessings and always ready to blame someone else.
He came to restore us to God, so at the end we could live forever with a God who gives endless blessings and life. In order to restore us Jesus had to carry the "In the day that you eat of it you will surely die." It was not His to carry but He came to carry us back to fellowship and we came with a curse. So Jesus took our sin (my sin) along with the separation. It was a long journey back, carrying us. Adam & Eve ate; Jesus fasted. We hid from God; Jesus presented Himself before His Father covered with our sin and guilt. We threw away the words and blessings of God; Jesus took the word of God for His life and strength, even the parts that judged and condemned.
Everything reached its climax on the cross as Jesus cried out, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" He had borne the separation that Adam & Eve did to themselves as they ate and hid.
It was finished. As in Genesis when God finished His work and rested, Jesus finished His work and it was time for the Sabbath. There is still among the Jews the practice of finishing work 3 hours before sundown, to prepare for the Sabbath. "There was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour [after sunrise] ... then Jesus calling out with a loud voice, said, 'Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!' And ... breathed His last." (Luke 23:44-46)
As Jesus commits His spirit into His Father's hands, He is fulfilling the sabbath. Jesus the Man has finished His work and is setting aside the day for fellowship with His Father. The Sabbath is not just for rest. It is for setting aside our work and spending time with God. It is for fellowship, God sharing His blessings, eternal life, and joy with us.
Jesus was resting. Along with resting, it was time to be with the Father and hear the Father say, "This is My Son, with whom I am well-pleased!"
The time of blessing has begun again. All the blessings of God are given and poured out on Jesus. Of Him the Bible says, "You have ... crowned Him with glory and honor ... given Him dominion over the works of Your hands, ... put all things under His feet ..." (Psalm 8:5-6) Like everything else in His ministry Jesus does these things for us. He holds all these blessings in trust for the day when we are glorified. In fact "the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God ... the redemption of our bodies." (Romans 8:19, 23)
The time will come the next day for the revealing. But this Sabbath is a time for the close and loving fellowship of the Father with His Son Jesus. God and Man have come to the day of rest and the day of fellowship and blessing. It is a re-set of everything that was supposed to be in our relationship with God.
Lord Jesus, thank You for restoring us, all Your people, to the fellowship and blessing You have wanted for us from the beginning. Let me find rest for my soul in You, rest from the turmoil and problems of life, and rest through hearing Your words and knowing Your promises, and rest in knowing that You are faithful and will bring me into endless blessings. Amen.
Rev. Mark Willig
Pastor Willig is pastor emeritus of Friends in Christ Lutheran Church.