The Sabbath Rest For Healing

And a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” Matthew 12:10

Call me old fashioned, but I hate to shop on Sundays! On the rare occasions when we do go out to a store for something vital, I am saddened to see that now it looks to be the busiest shopping day of the week. Of course, we weren’t any holier back in the day when almost everything was shut down on Sunday, but it gave us a taste of something that I believe the Lord meant for it to be. In this 21st century world of rushing about, 365 days a year, it is more important than ever to remember that what some of us still call, “The Lord’s Day”, remains a wonderful though overlooked blessing. There are a variety of opinions on the matter, but I believe that understanding how we can keep the Sabbath, begins by seeing how Jesus acted on that day. One thing we find over and over in the gospels is that He took special delight in choosing it for healing. This usually got Him in trouble with the Pharisees and in today’s verse, when they heatedly argued with Him about it, Jesus responded by saying –

“It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” Matthew 12:12.  

In other words, God didn’t mean for the day of rest to simply be a day for ceasing all activity. We see that for Jesus, the Sabbath was a day for miraculous restoration. At the finish of creation, God’s assessment of His work was,

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good…” Genesis 1:31 

But when we look around our world, even the rosiest of the rosiest views, is that not all is good any longer. In fact, there is incredible pain, suffering, sin and loss. The breath of life that God once breathed into Adam’s nostrils seems to have been replaced by an evil wind of warfare and hatred that is sweeping across our world. The good news is that Jesus came to give us the healing breath of life again. But for us to experience God’s Sabbath healing, we must learn to rest as Jesus did. After all, He brought more healing to a Samaritan woman’s heart and ultimately to her village when He rested by a well, than His disciples did while busily going into town to buy food. God has given us His special day, whether the world remembers that it is special or not. Now He waits to see if we will use it just for ourselves, or to share the living water of His healing with the people who are all around us who desperately need the rest that only God can give.

Photo by Frans van Heerden on

What If He Just Rested?

Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there. John 19:41-41

What better day to end this series on the Sabbath than Holy Saturday? This morning I began revising this post from last month, and I recalled that my wife and I used to sing a song titled, “The Little Boy From the Carpenter Shop” that went in depth on the subject. (I posted a link below if you want to listen) I loved that singing that song, but now I wonder how accurate its interpretation was of what Jesus was doing between his death on the Cross and Resurrection Sunday. In fact, I wonder how anyone knows exactly what occurred after Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus rolled the stone over the door to the tomb? What if on the day that serves as the hinge between the Old Testament and New – what if Jesus simply rested? What if when Jesus said, “It is finished!” and gave His spirit into his father’s hands He had one day without sorrow, suffering or demands of any kind? What if after three and a half years of ministry, in which it was said that he had nowhere to lay his head and scarcely time to eat, that Jesus just rested in His Father’s ability to do all that needed to be done for the day?

What if Jesus rested because it was the Sabbath? What if on the same day on which the creation of heaven and earth was completed, Jesus just paused to see everything that was good in the new creation now begun? What if there are times in our own lives when there is nothing more holy that we can do than nothing? What if on this Holy Saturday we quietly reflected and rested in the completed work of Jesus Christ? The Apostle James told us that we could see His faith by his works; however, it is equally true that there are times our faith is by shown by what we choose not to do. Just as by faith we die with Christ and are raised by Christ, there are also times when by faith He calls us to rest in Him and with all our hearts trust God to do the rest!

Keeping Sabbath is a Step of Faith

And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep.Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. Matthew 8:24-26

In today’s scripture Jesus accomplished more when he was resting than the disciples did while they were desperately rowing and bailing water. Jesus wasn’t being lazy when He was sleeping. He simply knew that the Father would help Him to do all He need to do at just the right time, but only if He rested! As we rest, it teaches us to depend more fully on Jesus. Just like the stillness that Jesus brought to the sea by His word, as we rest, our racing thoughts calm to a hush and in that quietness we can begin to hear God’s still small voice. Keeping Sabbath is a step of faith with our time, in the same way that giving our tithe is a step of faith with our finances.  With our tithe we give the first and best of our financial resources, trusting that God will multiply the rest to meet our needs. We need to remind ourselves that keeping a Sabbath is not just observing some law, but a spiritual recognition that the first and best of part our time is better in God’s hands, than a whole week in ours. As believers in Jesus Christ we don’t “have to” legalistically rest on Sunday. Instead, we discover that we have the privilege at least once a week to find our rest in Him. One day we will finish with all of the work of our life. On that day we will enter into the greatest Sabbath of all as we find our wonderful and complete rest in the presence of Jesus forever and all our work will remain behind!