We need to develop righteous judgment about what constitutes a genuine Sabbath emergency and what may be a deceptive rationalization of our human nature.
In the Gospels, questions about the Sabbath center on how to keep it, not whether it should be kept. The way Jesus approached the Sabbath gives us an example.
How and why a person keeps the Sabbath determines whether this test commandment is really a sign between God and His people or an act of futility.
The biblical instructions for Sabbath keeping apply far more to the church than to the Israelites, who did not have the fullness of scriptural counsel.
In the gray areas of applying God's Law, extending mercy and easing of burdens trumps legalism and hairsplitting.
The effectiveness of a law is found in its purpose and intent rather than the letter. Love and mercy constitute the spiritual fulfillment of the Law.
Only by using God's Spirit can we gain the self-discipline, self-mastery, and self-control to put to death the carnal pulls, giving us freedom from sin.
We live in a society that is increasingly concerned about ownership. Yet who owns the Sabbath? How does the answer to this question affect our keeping of it?
The work required on the Sabbath is to prepare for the Kingdom of God, fellowshipping with our brethren, serving where possible, and relieving burdens.
One Sabbath, Jesus healed a man with a withered hand. The Pharisees, however, hypocritically castigated Him for doing so. Christ's response reveals their problem.
Jesus magnified the Sabbath, giving principles by which to judge our activities. Each time Jesus taught about the Sabbath, He emphasized some form of redemption.
God gave the Sabbath to His people so they can know Him intimately. Idolatry, scattering, and captivity are the natural consequences of Sabbath-breaking.
The Sabbath reminds us that God is Creator and that we were once in slavery to sin. The Sabbath is a time of blessing, deliverance, liberty, and redemption.
At creation, God sanctified only one day, the seventh, as a day of rest. At Sinai, He again sanctified it as a holy day, tying it to creation and freedom.
The Sabbath is a special creation, a very specific period of holy time given to all of mankind, reminding us that God created and is continuing to create.
The reason for refraining from many activities on the Sabbath is not labor or energy, but the overall motivation. Certain works are perfect for the Sabbath.
When Jesus healed a woman bent over by a severe spinal condition, it was in a synagogue and on a Sabbath, arousing the anger of the Pharisees.
When Jesus healed the crippled man, His critics were more interested in attacking Him for healing on the Sabbath than in rejoicing in the restoration.
The episode of the healing of the man born blind speaks of the relevance of the Sabbath and the ubiquity of opposition to true Christians.
Jesus didn't break the Sabbath, but he did break extra-legal fanatical human custom applied to the Sabbath apart from God's Law.