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 The breath of life that God once breathed into Adam’s nostrils seems to have been replaced by an evil wind of warfare and hatred that is sweeping across our world.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

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!