May 22, 2012


Mark 2:23-3:6

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
—Mark 2:27-28


Years ago, one of my neighbors let me know that he did not want my dog stepping on his grass when I walked the dog around the block. I did not want to make him angry, so I made sure to pull the dog off the grass and onto the road whenever we walked past his house. I felt no joy in keeping my neighbor satisfied; I just did it out of a sense of obligation.

There are many things we do in life just to satisfy an obligation or to avoid someone’s anger. We might even think that practicing spiritual disciplines such as prayer, confession, meditation, fasting, and Sabbath keeping would somehow reduce God’s wrath toward us. But that’s not the point of spiritual disciplines. We do them gladly out of thanks to God.

Jesus faced people who accused him of violating the Sabbath because he and his disciples picked and ate grain on that day. Those people looked on the Sabbath law as an obligation, and they tried to point out that Jesus and his disciples were not keeping the Sabbath requirements and were thus making God angry.

Jesus’ response shows us that Sabbath was meant not to be an obligation but a gift. The gift of Sabbath is to renew and transform us by calling us to set aside time from normal routines to bask in the joy of God’s presence.

Heavenly Father, I want to know your grace more fully. Help me recognize the intent of your gifts so that I may enjoy and celebrate your salvation. Amen.

About the author — Bill Sytsma

Bill Sytsma is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary (M.Div) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min). He is the author of the book Follow the Leader and is serving as the pastor of New Life Christian Reformed Church in Highland, Indiana. He and his wife, Staci, have hosted support groups for families built through adoption. He and Staci are the proud parents of three active boys: Luke, Isaac, and Nico.

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