ODJ: seeing God’s heart

December 26, 2015 

READ: Mark 2:23-28 

The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath (v.27).

It may seem that modern, paved highways have always existed, but they’re a fairly recent invention. Intended to help people travel quickly and safely, they’re also a source of accidents and traffic jams. Many commuters lament the need to travel on highways—viewing them as an inconvenient and even dangerous part of modern life. What was designed to be a blessing is now viewed as a burden by these drivers.

A similar principle was at work in the life of Israel when it came to the Sabbath. Jesus, the “Lord, even over the Sabbath!” (Mark 2:28), taught that it was supposed to be a life-giving blessing to the people (v.27). But it had been transformed into a set of rigid rules and regulations that constrained and punished people. In fact, Jesus’ radical teaching on the Sabbath seemed so scandalous to the Pharisees that it became part of the reason they wanted to kill Him.

The Pharisees misunderstood the nature of the Sabbath because they misunderstood God’s heart. They rightly saw Him as powerful and holy, and so—to them—the Sabbath was a stern command from Him. But Jesus came with a fresh revelation of the identity and character of God. Yes, He’s powerful and holy, but He’s also our Father; He knows what we need and is generous with us (Matthew 6:9-13, 7:9-11). It’s this concept of God that enlightens our understanding of this day of rest.

This is an important reminder: In order to rightly interpret the Sabbath, or any other command of God, we must rightly understand God’s heart. If to us He’s an angry judge, then we’ll interpret His commands differently than if we see Him as He truly is—a wise, powerful, and loving Father.

—Peter Chin

365-day-plan: 1 John 3:1-24

Read John 8:1-11 for another example of Jesus’ understanding that the law should not be used to condemn others but to illuminate our own behavior 
What other examples in Scripture point to a rule or regulation that seem harsh but are actually there for our good? How does your view of God affect the way you interpret His rules?