Discussions with Skeptics
You Got to Break Some Eggs
Here we see Jesus breaking two religious regulations that are very dear to the teachers of the law. In neither case does it appear that the ox is in the ditch, so to speak. Rather, it appears that Jesus and his disciples are breaking these rules because they do not think they have an obligation to keep them.
These rules on fasting and picking grain on the Sabbath originate in the interpretations of men and their preferences rather than in undisputed commands of Scripture. Jesus is challenging both the rules and the authority of those who imposed them.
“The Sabbath Was Made For Man.”
God made humans before he made the Sabbath in the order of creation. On the sixth day he made man in his own image, male and female. He blessed them and he gave them authority over the earth.
Life on this planet is often difficult, exhausting, and nerve-wracking, especially if you are in charge, more or less. God knew this, and so he created the Sabbath for humans even before the advent of human sin. In other words, God knew that being stewards of the earth would be exhausting even if we lived perfectly, and he addressed that inevitable eventuality by resting on the Seventh Day and sanctifying it—making it holy. He did this as a favor to us, making the Sabbath for man, as Jesus said. He was fully human. So Jesus understood that life could be exhausting. He sought rest and reprieve from his own busy schedule, not because he was sinful or imperfect, but because he was human and in need of rest like all humans.
Every week that seventh day rolls around. It is to be a different day for the busy and tired humans that toil in the gardens and cities of this world. The day of worship is to be a day of rest, which is what the word Sabbath means. The word itself means “to cease, to rest, to desist from exertion.”
God instructed the Hebrews to rest every seventh day. He also instructed them to let their land rest, planting no crops in the soil every seventh year. And the economy itself was to rest every seventh year and especially in the Year of Jubilee, the 50th year following seven seven-year Sabbath rotations. In its ideal, all the prisoners were to be released, all debts forgiven, and everybody started even at zero again.
- This principle of rest was woven into the very fabric of the law. It was enshrined in the 4th of the Ten Commandments with the longest explanation of them all: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (Exodus 20:2)
- God is reminding them that he delivered them, not enslaved them. His law will enhance their freedom, not lead them back into bondage.“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." (Exodus 20:8-11)
- Fast-forward from the point of creation to the giving of the law on Mount Sinai to the time of Jesus. The priorities have gotten reversed somehow. Now man is the slave of the Sabbath rather than the Sabbath being the joyful and restful reprieve for man.
- The Sabbath needed a reinterpretation, a renewal, and a revival of its original intent. The early disciples of Jesus all grew up taking off the 7th day every week. That was there Sabbath—Saturday.
Jesus was the Son of Man, the ideal and representative man. He was the man that humans were intended to be. So he declared himself Lord of the Sabbath just as he was Lord of all the other commandments.
After Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath, rose from the dead on the First Day of the week, they began to celebrate the day of worship at the beginning of every week. And they insisted that every day was holy to the Lord and a day of worship: we worship with our lives, so to speak.
But this truth does not nullify the original intent of the Sabbath—that the Sabbath was made to enhance their lives, that humans needed a break once a week from the normal duties and responsibilities of life. This truth is recognized by societies the world over. Everybody needs a break, a rest, from the daily demands of making a living.
Fast forward to our own time. We could certainly improve our observance of this day of rest. We could, for instance, rest from our labors, we self-employed people who are on call 24/7. We could insist on uninterrupted rest. We could turn off our cell phones and enjoy a day without the demands of work continually upon us. I am not saying that I am good at this or that this is easy for me. It is not. But I do think that we are more frantic than we ought to be and that we need to regularly unplug, get out of the work routine, and enjoy the rest and cessation from exertion that enriches our lives and enhances our journeys.
“they pour new wine into new wineskins” - Mark 2:22
Jesus is bringing a new wine, a new spiritual era. For that, he needs a new wineskin.
The old wineskin is inadequate because it is not readily transferable to non-Jewish cultures.
“The Sabbath was made for man” is a revolutionary way to view the law of God. Jesus brought this revolution to light by breaking a few eggs along the way. He intended to usher in a new era of freedom akin to that freedom that Israel enjoyed when they were delivered from Egypt. And it would involve a new way of viewing the law.
The Sabbath law, made for humans, is an illustration of the nature of all the divine law. The divine commands are given to enhance the human experience here on this earth. Your life is improved and enhanced, you are more blessed, happy and fulfilled, if you adhere to these commands that are not intended to make you slaves but to make you free. of the passions that will ultimately pull you down if you let them.
The Pharisees were fasting twice a week. Why? They thought that made them more spiritual and reflected their devotion to God. Jesus described the situation in Luke 18:9-12: "To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 'Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’"
- Jesus’ disciples are following the prophet who came “eating and drinking.”
- Jesus is taking ancient teachings in a new direction. And he is breaking some eggs to do it. The interpretation is this: “some things may have to be broken or torn down to build something better.” Hence, the New Testament
"So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defense Jesus said to them, 'My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.' For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God." - John 5:16-18.