“For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:8, NIV2)
In our day and age we have a hard time understanding the word “Lord”. It’s truly a foreign concept to us. In the past, however, this concept was perfectly understood. Let’s flash back to the Middle Ages, to one of the castles of that time period . . .
In those days, the Lord was the one who had complete control of the castle. His word was law, and any disobedience would result in some kind of punishment. The castle rotated around this lord’s wishes, and all the inhabitants in the surrounding land lived to please their lord. The only way to get away from his lordship was to run away to another castle, where another lord reigned. Or they could try and assassinate the lord of their own castle, to take over his power . . .
Unlike these “lords” from the Middle Ages, Jesus referred himself as “Lord of the Sabbath” or in other words He was the only One who has complete control over the Sabbath. The Sabbath was an opportunity for people to spend time with God and to get to know Him.
Jesus’ Lordship was not to dominate, but to offer an opportunity to getting to know Him. Instead men added their own numerous human laws to protect the notion of the Sabbath, making the Sabbath a laughing stock to outsiders. Such human laws still exist today in some churches who proclaim that the Sabbath is still in effect. For example, people are greatly discouraged to swim during that day, but it’s OK to use a canoe. Members are criticized if working on Sabbath, but going door to door to try and bring more people into that denomination is okay, and of course pastors can work on the Sabbath. And you can’t get gas if the only option is full-serve, or if you have to use an attendant to pay for the gas. But a self-serve, pay-at-the-pump is okay.
It’s no wonder that when the Pharisees saw Jesus’ disciples plucking some heads of grain, as they were hungry, they immediately accused them: “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:2, NIV2)
Man has a tendency to always want to be in control, even over God. This is when Jesus pointed out that “the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:8, NIV2) He, not some human being, is the One who is control over our rest! No human institution or law can bring us true rest. Only our Lord and Master can do this, if we listen to Him!
Remember what the people might consider in order to get rid of the lord of their castles? They might consider murdering him, and this is exactly what happened to Jesus. He was falsely accused and murdered on the cross. After all, we must never lose control!
However, if we were to truly relinquish control, we would truly experience rest, just as Jesus promised: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28, NIV2)
One day recently we received a phone call from our youngest son. He had only left the house a few minutes earlier, and there was only one reason he would be calling . . . he had been in an accident.
He was driving on a small, rural road with no speed limit indicated. Cars using that road often tend to speed, and it was not unheard of for that some to drive 150 km per hour (93 miles per hour) down this road. My son was driving the speed limit (Good for him!). But as he crested an old railroad rise, he couldn’t see that there was a vehicle on the other side, moving along at about 80 Km per hour, down the middle of the road. By the time he realized his potential danger, there were only two possible choices: Either engage in a head-on collision, or veer off into the ditch on the side of the road. In a fraction of a second, he made the correct choice and put the car in the ditch, thus avoiding his own certain death.
Although significantly shaken up the experience, our son was at peace. He would later realize that had he entered the ditch just a few feet earlier, he would have likely rolled the car, for a few feet back from where the skid marks left the road, the far ditch wall was non-existent. All we could do was thank God for sparing his life.
Although he did make the preferable choice, his choice meant “death” to our car. It was 10 years old, it had 250,000 km on the odometer, and it had been in a major accident the year before. In addition, my wife had just learned an hour earlier that the car needed 2,500$ worth of work to be “safe”. Sooner or later we were going to have to replace that car anyway, so why not now? And is anyone surprised that the perfect car for us had just come on the lot that very day?
Why worry when we have Jesus as our Lord? He is the only One who can truly give us rest, even amidst extreme turmoil.
Would you like to go for a ride in our rural community? I know of a road that will fill you with adrenaline!
Oh, and guess what road our son now avoids at all costs? Especially when he’s driving the new car!
(To access the entire “Restful Repose” devotional series, please click here.)