Mark 3:2, 5 - … on the Sabbath… his hand was restored.
What is the Sabbath about?
This is essentially the question that Jesus asks the religious establishment one day at the synagogue. ‘Is the Sabbath about doing nothing, or about restoring that which is broken, depleted, or hurting?’ The religious leaders in Mark 3 were curious to see if Jesus would ‘violate’ the Sabbath command by healing a man on the holy day of rest.
While they perceived him to violate the fourth commandment of the Ten (Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5), Jesus actually perfected the Sabbath command.
Through Jesus, God has given us and will give us rest, or restoration. The Sabbath is about the Gospel, God’s restoration of humanity.
God commands rest. That’s pretty interesting, isn’t it? He commands rest probably because we’d forget to, especially in our culture of hustle and hurry. He commands Sabbath rest for our sake.
God also commands we rest for the sake of creation. When humanity rests, the earth gets rest. When humanity is restored, all of creation is restored (See Revelation). On the Sabbath, we rest to be restored, so that we can get back to doing the work that God has called us to do, namely take care of his creation.
The Sabbath is a gift of God to us and all of creation, far from the legalistic parade of do-nothingness that the religious leaders of the day practiced. The Sabbath is to be a day where we are restored, where we participate in the activities that give us life – activities that heal us – and that glorify God.
The Sabbath is made for us to stop, rest, worship, and delight – a day of restoration. And restoration is precisely what the Gospel is all about.
Living out the Sabbath is part of living out the Gospel. Let me explain that real quick…
In the beginning, God created humanity to rule and reign on the earth as his children, extending his Garden paradise to the ends of the earth as they partner with God for the flourishing of all creation. As humanity choose their own way of ruling instead of partnering with God, sin entered the cosmos and fractured humanity and the rest of creation. Indeed, all of creation groans as it waits for God’s children to be revealed (Romans 8:19-23)! Creation is awaiting our restoration so that it may be restored as well.
So, along came Jesus to live in the way that God designed humanity to live in, laying aside his divine privileges (Philippians 2:6-7) and his human will (John 5:30, 6:38) to partner with God for the renewal of all things – the restoration of all things. Jesus, dying in our stead to defeat the law of sin and raising to life to defeat death, ascended into heaven to give us the One who gave him the power to live in the way God ordains – the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit whose job is the restoration of God’s image: man and woman. By Him we can live in the character and power of Jesus for the sake of the whole creation. The Sabbath then, is about a day of restoration that points to the day to come where all things will be restored to their original beauty and purpose.
The Sabbath is a day, a way of living, to remind us that we were created as God’s children, whole and complete, not lacking anything. So, when we read about the events in Mark 3 of Jesus healing the man’s hand in the synagogue, we are reading the story of the Gospel: the restoration of humanity to their original nature and purpose.
While the religious leaders thought that living the Sabbath meant checking the box of ‘don’t work today,’ Jesus showed them that the Sabbath is about restoring humanity back to wholeness; it is a day for doing good, for being healed, and for reminding us that we are not God.
Whether it’s broken hands or broken hearts, God is concerned with the restoration of his image, mankind, and of all Creation. Jesus, through this story, shows us that the Sabbath, and the Gospel, is about restoration.
Jesus said that, “The Sabbath was made for humankind.” (Mark 2:27). Enjoy this gift of rest, then friends.