If you missed last week’s introduction to this book discussion, read here. If you’re ready for discussion of chapter 1, keep reading below…
So what does the Bible say about Sabbath?
Rabbis & Law
The beginning of the first chapter of Rest explains that in ancient Jewish culture, rabbis typically began an apprenticeship of sorts under a rabbi whose teachings they were familiar with and shared. Every now and then, a rabbi would come along who had his own interpretation of the ancient laws and he would use verbage, such as “You have heard it said… but I tell you.” A rabbi who spoke in this way, like Jesus, was said to “speak with authority” and would have caught people’s attention because such a teacher would be saying new things about old ideas.
When someone followed a rabbi’s teaching they were said to be “taking up that rabbi’s yoke.” Jesus described his yoke as “easy,” yet He seemed to hold people to a higher standard of the law, while acknowledging it was impossible to keep. He also claimed that He fulfilled the law (Mt. 5:17).
New Rabbi, New Sabbath Law: Freedom
How did Jesus describe the Sabbath? He said it was “holy,” set apart, and He said it was “made for people,” not the other way around. What did Jesus do on the Sabbath? On the Sabbath, we see Jesus teaching in the synagogue, walking in a grain field defending the disciples choice to help themselves to a snack, healing people and eating with people.
Kent says that Jesus kept Sabbath, not as culture expected him to, but with great freedom and that if we want to take up his yoke, we too will both keep the Sabbath and live in freedom. Do those two ideas sound opposing? They did to me at first too! She suggests that Jesus viewed the Sabbath as an opportunity to restore and reconnect people physically and spiritually.