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Lord of the Sabbath

by | Feb 9, 2022 | Relationship, Rest, Surrender

And Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.'” (Luke 6:5 ESV)

This devotion pairs with this weekend’s Lutheran Hour sermon, which can be found at lutheranhour.org.

One of the most compelling scenes in the story of the Fiddler on the Roof is the Sabbath prayer. From the moment Golde lights the Sabbath candles until the first star appears in the sky twenty-four hours later, the Sabbath is a picture of peace with God and with each other. Every time I see that scene—when the people of Anatevka stop everything to welcome the Sabbath—I find myself admiring that practice. I think, “Wouldn’t it be good if more Christians admired this Sabbath-keeping practice?”

Now, I’m not saying Christians should keep the Sabbath like Pharisees of Jesus’ day taught people to keep the Sabbath. I can’t say that because the New Testament says, “Let no one pass judgment on you … with regard to a Sabbath.” Why? Because the ritual laws of Judaism, including the Sabbath, eating kosher, and circumcision, “these are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (see Colossians 2:16-17).

It’s like this: a husband is sent away for his job and is temporarily separated from his wife. And the wife keeps a picture of her husband, a picture he gave to her. She keeps it close while they are separated. But then, one day, the separation is ended, and they’re re-united. So, what happens to the picture? It is surpassed by the experience of the two of them standing in each other’s presence.

The Sabbath was a picture of peace in the presence of God. And this picture, along with all the Old Testament rituals, is fulfilled by the experience of being in the presence of Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah. Being known by Him and loved by Him as part of His people, the bride of Christ (see Ephesians 5:30)—that is the surpassing experience, like how the presence of a person surpasses a photograph of them. But, if you love that person, you can still admire their picture, right?

Followers of Jesus ultimately rest not in a day, but in a Person. We find rest in Jesus whenever His Word in the Bible is shared and spoken. We find rest in Him wherever people are baptized and whenever the baptized gather around the bread and wine of Communion with the promise of His personal presence. To find Jesus today, both in solitude and in the company of others, you’ll have to set aside your work for a time. So, you and I can admire Sabbath-keeping practices, even adopting and adapting some of them. And on the Day when Jesus comes again, like the families of Anatevka stopped everything to welcome the Sabbath into their lives, you and I will stop everything to welcome the Lord of the Sabbath into ours.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for blessing us with Your peace and Your presence. Let us find our Sabbath rest in You, and in You alone. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on February 4, 2022
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved

Reflection Questions:
1. Watch “Fiddler on the Roof Sabbath Prayer” on YouTube. What can you admire about this?
2. How might being legalistic about not “working” on certain days do more harm than good?
3. What rhythms of work and rest help you meet Jesus, both in solitude and with others?

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