Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. Acts 1:12 KJV
I love the tradition of keeping a Sabbath, and having worked in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, I learned from my friends that one way they keep it is by living close enough so that on the Sabbath, they could walk to synagogue. Seeing them marching with their children down to temple seemed as timely and beautiful as lilacs in bloom or robins returning in the Spring. Their community was bound together by the time-honored tradition of “A Sabbath Day’s Journey.” While the exact length of the journey is in dispute, most believe this to have been the prescribed distance between the people and the tabernacle in the wilderness. It also comes from the Old Testament book of Exodus, where God tells His people, that they could gather the manna only on the first six days of the week, but on the Sabbath,” Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.”
But what about today? What does a “Sabbath Day’s Journey” mean for us? Here are three thoughts about that journey. First, a Sabbath journey is for going to worship God. This journey is something God calls us to every week as we gather with other believers. He knows how easy it is for our heart to wander and corporate worship helps puts our focus back on Jesus. Don’t allow guilt or worry about what others think or say to keep you from going to God’s house. Meeting together is our Sabbath day’s journey to Him. Second, the Sabbath Day’s Journey gives us an opportunity to help a neighbor. Jesus pointed out that even the Pharisees stopped to pull an animal out of a pit or bring them water on the Sabbath. All week we run as fast as we can and work as much as we can to meet our own needs. A Sabbath day journey is an opportunity that God gives us to meet the needs of others. If someone is sick, why not visit or at least try making a phone call? Is there someone you know who is lonely? Why not invite them over for a meal? God doesn’t get into specifics about how we love our neighbors. He just tells us to do it and then leaves the details up to us.
Last, a Sabbath day’s journey is the one that Jesus made regularly to heal. I used to think that He did this just to irritate the Pharisees, but then I realized that He chose the holiest day of the week because people matter more to Him than anything else. A Sabbath day’s journey was the journey Jesus made from Heaven to earth for you and me. He was resting nicely in Heaven. He didn’t need to leave His home, but He did. He chose His Sabbath day’s journey to come, and His journey ended when He said, “It is finished!” So, on this next Sabbath day let’s take a journey to meet for worship, let’s find someone we can serve and most of all let’s be thankful that Jesus took a Sabbath day’s journey from Heaven just to come and walk with us!