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When Traditions Become Your Master

February 6, 2022


Elder Chris Sawicki


Sermon begins at minute 40:21. "Unmute" to listen.

Note: Our Ruling Elder, Chris Sawicki, filled in for Pastor Kling this week. Enjoy! 

When Traditions Become Your Master

The year 2022 will be an interesting year for Covenant Church. We are still dealing with the COVID issue but we have also just installed our new pastor. And we can look forward to what innovative ideas and exciting changes a young Pastor like Peder has in mind for us.  


Now as I make that statement, I am sure there are many deceased Presbyterians turning over in their graves. Innovation? Changes? New Ideas, that’s unheard-of in Presbyterian circles!


We Presbyterians like things just as they are, no need to change anything. We have traditions and rules and regulations to uphold and cling to!


But when we start thinking and acting like our traditions and our rules are what defines us and our tradition and rules become our standard and our reason for being, then we are walking on dangerous ground. Because such an attitude will guarantee paralysis, stagnation and decline. Especially in regards to how we show Love and Mercy, because when things remain in status quo, there will be no growing in sanctification. 


And not just for the organization, but also for the individual. Way too often our minds can get locked into a manmade tradition, or a rule or regulation that blinds us to the leading of the Spirit.We need to be careful as members and individuals but also the leaders of the church need to be on guard because we are all sinners and we all have the tendency to set our man made rules and traditions as equal to or even above Gods commandment. Countless people are thinking they are right with God because they hold to certain beliefs and manmade traditions. Or that they perform certain rituals and duties because that was what they were taught. Man is forever seeking to make himself right with God. Which is good. But what is tragic is when people seek to be made right with God based on man’s flawed thinking.


But God has given us His Word. And He expects us to follow His instructions and not concoct our own system. His way brings freedom and life. Man-made religion brings bondage and death.


The living God is not impressed when unconverted sinners practice their little acts of piety to think they can earn His favor. In fact, It is an insult to His holiness. It is an insult to His blessed gift of forgiveness and it is an insult to his Mercy and Grace.


An anonymous author once said, “Religion is us trying to prove to God how important we are...spirituality is being humble enough to allow God to prove to us how important He is”.

Hopefully before it is too late, there will come a time through the spirit when unbelieving people will consider their ways and leave the path of destruction they are on and turn to Christ, and JUST CHRIST.

All of us were there at one time, living our lives thinking we were good people and following what we had been taught or what we assumed was right, believing everything was fine. 

We may not have been all that fanatical about our beliefs, but nonetheless we stuck to them, all the while thinking God must be pleased with me because I am a good person and I am trying to follow what I was taught. 

And it wasn’t until Jesus revealed himself to us in his truth that we saw the error of our ways.

Looking Back at Jesus with the Pharisees

In 1st century Jerusalem, the Jewish people were much like that, Thanks to their leaders and the teaching of the Pharisees, the people were shackled by a legalistic system that was man-made and had an overwhelming burden of countless “do’s” and “don’ts.” 

The rules they made were set in cement and they were very zealous in making sure everyone followed them, but then Jesus enters history and he seems to go out of His way to violate their rules.

So you might wonder wasn’t Jesus intent on obeying God’s law? Absolutely!

But was Jesus going to submit Himself to the rules of men? Absolutely not!

Jesus came into history right at the peak of the Jewish religious system that was completely over whelmed with observing their own concocted “traditions” rather than God’s Laws, and Jesus opposed what they were doing tooth and nail, and that in large part it was the reason that eventually led to these religious people plotting to crucify Him.

We see a good example of this situation in Matthew 12: 1-14. So let’s read that together and then see what the Lord would have us to learn from it today.

Mat 12:1  At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat.And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, "Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!" But He said to them, "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: "how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? "Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? "Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. "But if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless. "For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"; that they might accuse Him. Then He said to them, "What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? "Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath."  Then He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.

Thus far the reading of God’s holy word, may we truly be blessed in its hearing.

Now, Just prior to this scene in Chapter 12 of Matthew,  Jesus said to the people following Him these words. He says,


Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

And now in Matthew 12 he is going to put those words into action and show us the true understanding of the law of God and of righteous living by comparing His way to the way of the religious leaders of the time. 


The Pharisees were the guardians of the law and the people blindly followed them because they just assumed that these guys were right. They felt that they were serious holy men who spent their entire lives studying God’s word and they had a greater understanding of God so we need to listen to them and obey their teaching. 


It probably never occurred to the people that perhaps these men might be wrong about something concerning God’s word. Let’s look at how Jesus sets them straight. First we’ll examine the setting or the circumstances of this passage.

Chapter 12, verse 1 says, “At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat.”

Farmer’s fields are quite a bit different today than they were in Biblical times. Back in the first century it was common for roads to cut right across and through the fields. Remember the parable about the sower where “some of his seeds fell beside the road” That was because many roads cut right through planted fields. To get from one place to another it was necessary to cross directly through the fields.

As verse 1 indicates, Jesus and His disciples were doing exactly this. They weren’t taking a shortcut, the road actually cut right through the field.  And they were passing through the grain fields on the Sabbath, So first off they weren’t trespassing because this was common back then, then the text says “They became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat.” 

Basically they would pluck the heads, rub them in their hands which separated the husks and then eat the kernels of wheat. Then Verse 2 says, And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, "Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!"

Obviously these guys were watching Jesus like a hawk. You might think, that they finally caught Him, he has broken one of the ten Commandants. He was stealing food from another’s farm!  And not only stealing but on top of that they were doing it on the Sabbath!

But you would be Wrong! Because that is not what the Bible teaches or even says in this account.

Because the Old Testament law gave permission for such a practice as this; Just about everyone is familiar with the gleaning rule in the Bible. Where it is says that when fields are harvested that the farmer must leave the corners of his field so that the poor can go and gather the remaining grain and take it home. But Jesus and his disciples were not “gleaning” because this field was not yet harvested. So where they in fact stealing?


No, because there is another law in Deuteronomy 23:25 that says, “When you enter your neighbor's standing grain, then you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not wield a sickle in your neighbor’s standing grain.” 

This command from God was specifically designed as a gift of mercy to the poor. You could eat till you were full, but you couldn’t cut down any grain. So we see that Jesus was not stealing nor were the Pharisees concerned about that matter. 

The problem they had according to verse 2 was that Jesus was not obeying the Sabbath.

You see, the Sabbath was at the heart of their man-made religion. There was nothing wrong with the Sabbath as it was given by God in the Old Testament, it was to be a special covenantal sign between God and Israel. And Jesus abided by its guidelines as He came to fulfill the law.

But the religious leaders redefined the Sabbath and transformed it from a day of rest to a day of incredible burdens. And when Jesus violated their definition of the Sabbath, the final straw was laid on the camel’s back, and that camel’s back would soon break which began a whole flood of opposition that culminated in His death by crucifixion. 


You see, their whole legalistic system focused on this one day, the Sabbath, and Jesus without any remorse violated their rules in broad daylight. The Pharisee’s were looking for something they could accuse Jesus with and now they thought they had it. You would have to spend an entire day to read all the “do’s” and “don’ts” of appropriate Sabbath activity that was thought up by the Pharisee’s. But to give you a flavor, here is a brief sampling. 

You could not weave or separate two threads, make a knot or undo a knot. That was considered work. You could not write more than one letter of the alphabet because that might become a message to someone and be work, you could not blow out a candle or spit on the ground. That was considered work. 

Chairs could not be moved because they tended to drag ruts across the ground, and that was a violation. A woman could not look in a mirror, because she might see a gray hair and pluck it out. Jewelry could not be worn because it weighed more than a dried fig and then you would be carrying a load, which was work. 

You might have heard that the Pharisees had composed a list of 39 things that constituted work on the Sabbath BUT actually it was hundreds of things. They had 39 categories and in each of those categories were numerous activities that were considered work.

So you might ask, what exactly was Jesus doing wrong on the Sabbath that violated their man made tradition? The text does not specifically say but if you look at some of their rules that deal with the situation at hand you can make some educated assumptions.

First of all, they concocted strict rules regarding their definition of reaping on the Sabbath. For example, the Talmud says, “In case a woman rolls wheat to remove the husks, it is considered as sifting; if she rubs the heads of wheat, it is regarded as threshing; if she cleans off the side-adherence, it is sifting out the fruit; if she bruises the ears, it is grinding; if she throws them up in her hand, it is winnowing.” 

Even though the disciples were only plucking heads of grain to eat because of their hunger, by the Pharisees definition they were reaping, and this was one of the forms of work not permitted on the Sabbath, so therefore they were violating the Sabbath in their minds.

Second, Jesus most likely exceeded the 3,000 feet that they said he would have been allowed to travel from His home. And just to show you how ridiculous this system was, if a citizen placed food 3,000 feet away the night before, that then became his home also, and he could go another 3,000 feet. Or if a person grabbed belongings from his house, he could drop the belongings after 3,000 feet, considering that spot his dwelling and then continue another 3,000 feet, then drop more clothes and go another 3,000 feet. Then on the way back, he just gathered all his things, stopping every 3,000 feet to pick up what he had left. 

But Jesus was God’s true messenger. And in proclaiming His true message He destroyed these legalistic and artificial traditions. He refused to play by their religious rules.

The problem with the religious leaders of the day and the Pharisees was that they had changed the Sabbath from what God had intended, a day of rest to a day of rules, regulations and burdens.  The Lord of the Sabbath was standing right there before them and their eyes of faith were blinded by their traditions. 


Now, back to the scripture we see Jesus’ response to them.In Verses 3 and 4 we read,


But He said to them, "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?"

Here Jesus responded to their accusation that He was violating God’s law with a comparison. The people And especially the leaders all venerated King David. And Jesus takes them back to the account from 1 Samuel 21 where David when hungry entered the tabernacle and ate the consecrated bread. 


Now the consecrated bread was to be eaten by the priests alone the Bible tells us in Leviticus 24:9. And now Jesus asks them with, perhaps a tone of sarcasm, if they read the very book they claimed to be teaching.


The Bible tells us that David entered the tabernacle on the Sabbath, which was the day that the 12 loaves of showbread was to be changed out, and he tricked the high priest into giving him and his men five loaves of the twelve. Ultimately the priest gave him the bread out of mercy due to his hunger. The showbread was a meal offering of the people to God so that God could look upon it all during the week.  And it was to be exchanged every seventh day on the Sabbath, as a continual offering from the people.  Then the priests ate the twelve loaves that were exchanged out for the new ones. 


And as is the case with all things in the tabernacle, the showbread represented the Christ in a specific way. It was in the idea of mercy and rest in the Christ, the Messiah to come, that stands out as a central figure! 


So there is an intimate connection here between the truths foreshadowed in the tabernacle, the showbread and the Sabbath – on the one hand – and the Sabbath “rest” that is ours covenantally in Christ. Merciful, refreshing rest from the labors and burden of our sin and depravity.

So when David entered the tabernacle and ate the showbread,  he represented the Kingdom of Christ partaking of the body of its Savior, Who is the true Bread from heaven, and Who gives all His people a place of rest in Him. Then we experience the refreshing and merciful ceasing from laboring under the curse.


You see, the mercy of Christ is inherent in the Law.  And the priest was doing nothing more than exercising that mercy when he gave the only bread he had to David so that he could eat!  It did not contradict any law, but mercifully fulfilled the Law of mercy and love which was to be embodied in the Lamb of God! And since it was ok for David to violate divine law, it must be ok for Jesus to violate rabbinic law. 


The claim that our Lord is making, which the Pharisees didn’t miss was this: their approach to interpreting the law was all wrong, the priests were right in what they did and Jesus was right in what He was doing, and now Someone  greater than David had arrived!

Then in verse 5 Jesus continues, "Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?"

Again, Jesus takes them back to God’s true law saying, “Have you not read?” If no work is permitted on the Sabbath then why are the priests an exception? Why are they permitted to break the Sabbath every week?


While the average Israelite is supposed to take it easy on this day of rest, the priests are working their tails off in the temple – they are changing the bread, cleaning and resetting the various offerings, presenting the burnt offerings and performing numerous other duties.

In the formal sense, the priests broke every Sabbath every week. So why are they given a pass? Once again: the Pharisees were misinterpreting God’s law, what Jesus was doing was right, and someone greater than the priests had arrived!

As a matter of fact, Jesus went beyond the priests to the very temple itself.  In verse 6 Jesus disclosed Himself in all clarity when he says. "Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple."


It is easy for us to miss the force of those comments. To the average Jew the temple was everything! Let’s remember, the temple was at one time the very dwelling place of God. As a matter of fact, God stopped dwelling in the temple due to the Israelite’s disobedience. The people were sent into exile and the ark of the covenant was lost. But God had now returned to His people. He came back in the person of Jesus Christ.  “The Word had became flesh, and dwelt among us.” But blinded by their religion and their traditions, the Jewish leaders missed Him. They were too religious to see God! Blinded by their traditions, they missed the One to whom David and priests and the temple and the whole law itself pointed. 


They missed the One that would fulfill the law.

They missed the One that revealed the true heart of God.

And what is the true heart of God? Jesus is about to disclose it. 


In Verse 7 he says, "But if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless."

The common thread that binds all man-made religion together is the word sacrifice.  And that word sacrifice can mean all the “stuff” people do under the banner of “religion” that has absolutely no purpose other than an attempt to please God.


Let’s remember, Jesus told us the greatest commandments are to love God with all your heart and love others as yourself.  All the other stuff we do based upon tradition that we think finds favor in the eyes of God, is meaningless. Actually, it can be worse than meaningless because we can sometimes think we are gaining His favor by man-made efforts. 

The Pharisees needed to rediscover God’s heart that they had buried under their rituals, rules and regulations.Jesus was actually quoting Hosea 6:6 where God says. “I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice.” The Pharisees were missing out on compassion, mercy and love. 

And if they knew what real love was, they would have recognized that love incarnate was standing right before their very eyes. But Instead they rejected Jesus. As Jesus said in verse 7, “if they had a clue, “They would not have condemned the innocent.” 


They attempted to indict Jesus. But when it was all said and done, It was Jesus who indicted these religious leaders as the true lawbreakers.


And then in verse 8 Jesus justifies His comments when he says, “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” That statement may have confused them a little. Was he talking about himself or was he referencing the person mentioned in Daniel 7, where the one called the Ancient of Days confers  upon the one called the son of man all power and authority. 

David was Israel’s greatest king – that was until King Jesus came along. 

The priests were the ones who “stood in the gap” between man and God – that was until Jesus, our High Priest came along. Animal sacrifices were the key part in the temple system – that was until Jesus sacrificed Himself as the Lamb of God. And the Sabbath was the heart of God’s covenant with Israel – that was until Jesus became our Sabbath rest. 

Jesus Christ is Lord, meaning He has the supreme authority to do as He wills. He reveals the Father to whom He wills. And to the shock of the Pharisees, It is His decision as to what is acceptable behavior on the Sabbath.


So now Jesus is about to put His words into action. He is going to show these guys the real meaning of the Sabbath. He is going to provide for the Pharisees a case study. 

In Verse 9 it says, Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue.

When you think for a moment, that is a remarkable statement. While His comments were still ringing in their heads and the steam was still seeping out of their ears, the verse says Jesus “departing from there” went into “their” synagogue.


Instead of leaving after being confronted, He is about to illustrate the lesson He had just provided them and he is going to do it on “their” own turf. Verse 10 says, "And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, 'Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?'; that they might accuse Him."


Earlier I gave you a sampling of what was forbidden on the Sabbath. In addition to those rules was one that said you were not allowed to heal a person on the Sabbath. You could only assist them if they were dying.  This man the Pharisees brought forth had a withered hand – which was not exactly life threatening. 

And you can tell this was probably staged by the Pharisees because a person with physical handicaps would not be allowed entrance into a synagogue. Remember, the Jews back then thought that a deformity only came upon someone because of their sin, so this guy would have been thought of as a terrible sinner. 

This was a calculated trap purposely staged by the Pharisees.Would Jesus violate what they thought was God’s law? Absolutely, because He knew God’s true law of compassion and mercy.  And it says we are to, “Relieve this man’s misery if you are able.” 

Psalm 12:5 says  "For the misery and affliction of the poor, for the groans of the needy, Now I will arise," says the LORD; "I will set him in the safety for which he yearns."

These guys cared only about their traditions, and evidence of their lack of love was in using this poor guy as a pawn simply to accuse Jesus.


But before Jesus performed the miracle, He asked a simple question. He knew their motives, and His question once again caused their attempts to backfire. 


In Verse 11 it says, Then He said to them, "What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?

Their written rules in the Talmud actually said that they can help a sheep or other animal on the Sabbath, but they cannot help a man created in God’s image! They made their rule so that they can protect their financial investments, but they wouldn’t alleviate another’s suffering.

So Jesus goes on in versus 12 and 13.   "Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." Then He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other.

Mark’s and Luke‘s  gospel also have these events recorded, In the gospel of Mark it says, “The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him” (Mk. 3:6). 


Now that is very interesting because the Jews hated the Herodians. They were of the family of Herod, decedents of Esau and Edomites, they weren’t real Jews. 

These ultra conservative, ridged and legalistic Pharisees wouldn’t normally be caught dead taking to a Heriodian. 


Luke reports in his gospel, “But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus” (Lk. 6:11). And here in Matthew it says, “But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.”

It was now crystal clear. The final shoe had fallen; the straw has broken the camel’s back. 

Jesus helped a man on the Sabbath, and their religious system would not tolerate such a practice.

Despite witnessing a wonderful miracle they were blinded by their tradition. 

Their deep-seated convictions were violated, and their power was threatened by Jesus’ claims of authority. The only option available in their minds was to kill this man who dares to go against their traditions.

Applying This to Us Today

So how does this section of scripture apply to us today? Usually these verses are used to show us the proper observance of the Lords Day for us Christians today.

But I am looking at it from another angle this morning. I began to wonder, does our adherence to our rules and regulations make us similar to these Pharisees?

Even as nit picky as we can be sometimes about our rules, we are nothing like those Pharisees, or are we.

Are we placing manmade rules and regulations above mercy and compassion? I know I can sometimes be that way. And just like the Pharisees I justify my behavior and use scripture to back it up. For instance, just because I like things to start and end on time doesn’t mean it needs to be a hard and fast rule. 

But I justify it by saying God is a God of order, not chaos, and we need to stick to specific times for Sunday School and Bible study and so forth. 


Do everything in an orderly manner, Ist Corinthians 14 tells us. We can’t go overtime because that’s not the way God would want it. 


But is that showing compassion, mercy and love?  Think about it, when we are all sitting around at the Lord’s feet in heaven and He is teaching us all the mysteries of creation and revealing the details of his amazing plan of redemption; am I going to ring the buzzer say, sorry Lord, times up.  


We also have a rule here at Covenant Church that we will allow no food or drink in the sanctuary. That makes sense, even though the carpet is old that rule helps us to keep the place clean and neat; after all, no bride wants to walk down an aisle with a great big coffee stain on the carpet. But is that a rule we want to become legalistic about? 


What if a first-time visitor who isn’t aware of our rule walks in with a tall Dunkin Donuts coffee in his hand? How should we react? If we embarrass him by asking him to leave until his coffee is gone, we will probably never see him again, and he may never have a chance to hear the Gospel. Is that worth preventing a potential stain on the carpet? I don’t think so. Carpet can be replaced; people can’t. 


You see, The Gospel prioritizes human needs above man made religious rules. And that basic principle is laid out in the very commandment that the Pharisees focused most of their man made rules upon.


 The 4th commandment says:


Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.


It’s the longest of the Ten Commandments, perhaps because God didn’t want to be misunderstood. But the Jewish religious leaders still misunderstood. They didn’t feel God had been specific enough, so they decided to help Him out. They added hundreds and hundreds of pages of explanations as to what God supposedly meant when He gave the Fourth Commandment. In essence they become the fathers of legalism.


Our Legalism in Three Categories

Today there is all kinds of legalism, but they all fall into one of 3 categories,


The first kind of legalism is where the law of God is kept by a person in order to attain salvation. That one almost all Christian denominations understand as false. That one is more symptomatic of a cult.  So usually that one doesn’t rear its ugly head around here. 


The second kind of legalism is where a person tries to keep or maintain his salvation by keeping the law.  This of course is also a false doctrine, but people often fall victim to its deadly trap.


The last kind of legalism is where a Christian keeps certain rules, traditions and regulations and regards other Christians who do not keep his level of holiness with contempt. He will Judge and condemn them, whether in his mind or openly. This kind of legalism is a frequent problem in many churches and in many individual Christians. That is the one the Pharisees were experts at and unfortunately many Christians are too. Because if you are that type of Christian; then you are more concerned with rules and regulations than you are with God’s mercy and love. 


If you read the Bible from beginning to end, you will never find any regulations about how many steps you may take on the Sabbath day, or how you have to prepare your food so that the cooking does not amount to work, or whether you can milk your cows or feed your animals. Nothing like that is found anywhere in the Word of God. 


That is precisely the mindset of the Pharisees that the Lord is attacking here in Matthew 12. Theirs is a corruption of God’s Word, a perversion of it. The Sabbath was made to bless man not to burden him, and our Sabbath rest has come in the person of Jesus Christ.


Look at the conduct of the Lord of the Sabbath on the Sabbath day. What did he do on that day as well as everyday of the week? He enjoyed the fellowship of others, both believers and unbelievers. We see him on the Sabbath day in the homes of other people, enjoying a meal and conversation. What is more, we see him using the day to do good to other people.


 The Sabbath as well as everyday, for the Lord, was a day for kindness, mercy, and compassion. 


Does anyone think that there is so much kindness and compassion in our lives that we have no need for a day to remind us to practice such things? 


This is the Lord’s point. By reducing Sabbath observance to the performance of endless regulations the true meaning of it all was lost. It was a gift God had given mankind and a gift He had given to His people specifically. 


It was a holiday. Imagine what would become of Christmas and the Christmas spirit that we love if ten thousand regulations had grown up governing every aspect of the celebration of Christmas: what could and could not be done on the day; how the tree could and could not be decorated; what food could and could not be enjoyed; what presents could and could not be exchanged? 


That is what happened to the Sabbath. The Pharisees spoiled it. They sucked the joy right out of it. They made it a burden instead of pleasure; the hardest day of the week instead of the happiest. 


No, said Jesus. That is not the Sabbath and that is not your Lords Day. That is not my Father’s gift to you. The Pharisees were strict Sabbath keepers and they followed their embellishments to the letter. And yet they missed the whole point of the Sabbath. They found no rest from their endless works and efforts at salvation. They didn’t see the real purpose for the Sabbath laws, that they were mere shadows of hope, a weekly reminder that there was a paradise to be regained and it was through the means of righteousness, and through the righteousness of one special sacrifice.

They didn’t understand that there could be a rest from the endless struggle and the horrible burden of trying to earn your salvation. And when Jesus came, He brought that rest, the true rest. And now the child of God is now a new person. Under the New Covenant we are healed and washed and found and accepted.


We have entered into rest with none other than the Creator Himself. We have been given HIS righteousness, we rejoice in that gift, and we cease all effort to earn our salvation. 

 My yoke is easy and my burden is light Jesus said. You keep my Sabbath day and it will be for you and your children the best day of the week. You’ll look forward to its coming and regret its passing. Come to worship with the saints in the house of God and have your faith renewed and your love refreshed. 


And most importantly, worry less about rules and regulations and what you can’t do and concentrate more on mercy and love and what you can do. If we do that, as we follow our new pastor into the years ahead, we will find that living the Christian life is a delight and a joy and not in any way a burden to bear.



Let’s  close together in prayer:

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