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Letter Twenty One

Imagine you were one of the women followers of Jesus during his three-year ministry on earth. What would it be like as you heard his teachings, walked by his side, and watched his ministry?

Dear sister,

Jesus is helping us to understand the meaning and purpose behind our traditions and the laws given by Moses. Recently, he has been speaking to us about the Sabbath. This discussion began because he allowed us to pick grain and eat it as we passed through a field on the Sabbath. The Pharisees saw us doing this and immediately scolded us for doing what is unlawful. I must admit, that I too felt a little nervous picking my food on the Sabbath. Remember how we always helped mother prepare all our food the day before the Sabbath so we would not do any work on this weekly day of rest?

Jesus proceeded to point out that King David and his companions ate consecrated bread in the temple. The priests also did this. Then he said that he is greater than the temple, and is Lord of the Sabbath. Later, Jesus entered the temple and healed a man with a shriveled hand. When questioned about the fact that this was done on the Sabbath, he pointed out that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. He also said that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” I saw the anger and distress on Jesus’ face when the Pharisees put their religious rules over the needs of this suffering man.

I am beginning to realize that in our efforts to be obedient to God’s Word, we often miss the point of the heart of why God gave us His laws. They are to guide and empower us live a healthy, righteous, and other-centered life. Sometimes we get caught up in our religious rituals at the expense of tending to someone in need. I am grateful that my Master is teaching me to go much deeper in my faith. I am learning to think about the things I do for God and do them with a heart of compassion, worship, and mercy.

Learning to rest in Christ Jesus,

your Big Sister

Today’s Bible Reading: Luke 6:1-11; Matthew 12:1-14; Mark 2:23-3:6; Hebrews 4:9-11; Colossians 2:16-17

Today’s Application:

We no longer need to follow the strict regulations of the Old Testament regarding the Sabbath. Hebrews 4:9-11 tells us that just as our Creator rested on the seventh day from His work, we now rest from working for our salvation, because Christ has given us the free gift of salvation through His work on the cross. The Sabbath laws were a foretelling of our salvation.

As Ephesians 2:8-9 says, we are saved through faith in Christ’s death and resurrection and now by His grace we can rest from trying to earn our salvation. That is why Jesus allowed the disciples to prepare food and pray for healing for others on the Sabbath. Colossians 2:17 tells us that the Sabbath is “a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”

Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). God made us. He knows our frame, our limitations, and our needs. “God’s pattern of work and rest is instructive for us. Following that pattern, we can learn and benefit” (James A. Borland, Christian Research Institute). Take time to evaluate your weekly schedule. Are you taking some extended time each week to pray, read the Word, and let God ‘s presence restore you? Are you on the road to burn-out? Are you feeling spiritually and emotionally empty? Take time each week to physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually rest. This will allow you to give your best as you serve God and others.

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