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Jesus Defines Sabbath and Defies Legalism

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Description: Jesus Himself is our rest. Anything or any practice that robs our joy in Him is destructive, unhealthy, and the enemy of God.

Keywords: Gospel, Jesus, God, Luke, narrative, Son of God, Bible, Sermon, Bible Fellowship Church, BFC, Whitehall, Northern Lehigh

Date: January 17, 2016

Series: Luke

Speaker: Pastor Tim

Church: Whitehall

Scripture: Luke 6:1-11

Video: Watch this Sermon

Audio: Listen to this Sermon (time 44:17)

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1 “Jesus Defines Sabbath and Defies Legalism” (Luke 6:1-11) PASTOR SCHMOYER: Luke chapter 6, we’ll read verses 1 through 11. Friend, if you’re using a pew Bible, you can find that on page 861. Here is Jesus defining the Sabbath and defying legalists and legalism. God’s people are to be people that are free, people filled with grace, people that seek to encourage and build up one another rather than to nitpick and tear down and to destroy. Jesus came that we might have life, abundant life. The thief comes to kill and steal. We see the difference between those two methodologies in today’s passage. Brother Clarence, would you read God’s Word for us. Luke chapter 6 verses 1 through 11. CLARENCE REHRIG: “On a Sabbath, while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. But some of the Pharisees said, ‘Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?’ “And Jesus answered 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 took and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?’ And he said to them, ‘The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.’ “On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was 2 teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Come and stand here.’ And he rose and stood there. And Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?’ And after looking around at them all he said to him, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.” May God bless the reading of his word. PASTOR SCHMOYER: All right, friends. Jesus defines Sabbath; he defies legalism. You’re going to need two things, three things. First you’re going to need your Bible, but you already have it open, so good. That’s number one. Number two, our sermon notes, you’ll need that as we walk through. You’ll need the connection card that’s attached to today’s bulletin as we walk through the scripture together. Jesus defines Sabbath in a way that is different than the traditional understanding. Now, was he right in his definition? Was Jesus correct in defining Sabbath the way he defined it? This is a Sunday School question and a 3 Sunday School answer, which reminds me of a story. We’ll lighten the mood a little bit. So a Sunday School teacher was asking the class: What eats nuts and has a big bushy tail? And the kid answered, “Well, that sounds like a squirrel, but since this is Sunday School, the answer must be Jesus.” Because that’s what you talk about in Sunday School, you talk about Jesus in Sunday School. So Jesus likes nuts and has a big bushy tail. We know at least he likes nuts because look at the kind of people he hangs around with, right? Nitpicks and neat-nicks. All right? Jesus likes hanging around with nuts, likes hanging around with these folks that need life change. That’s what the gospel is all about, getting into someone’s life and bringing about good, restorative, creative change. This is what Jesus does. And if we’ve lost the faith that Jesus can change us or Jesus can change that person in your life, man, be restored to that childlike faith, that faith that trusts in a God. Jesus said that no one can enter the kingdom of heaven unless he has faith like a child. Be restored to that belief, that faith. Jesus defines Sabbath in a way that is unconventional. However, he’s correct. Because Jesus wrote the Old Testament. We might even say Jesus is the Old Testament. What is John chapter 1 verse 1? “In the beginning was the 4 Word. The Word was with God,” and what? CONGREGATION: And the Word was God. PASTOR SCHMOYER: “The Word was God.” He was in the beginning with God, and verse 14 continues that theme: “and the Word that was with God and that was God, that Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” So now Jesus is here on earth. He is the Word of Life, and he speaks words of life. He speaks everything that the Father instructed him to say, and now Jesus in his definition of Sabbath isn’t changing what Moses intended because Moses wrote down what Jesus told him to write down. Jesus is the Word. And so this scripture that we’re reading, it reflects and it defines our Lord Jesus, it makes much of the Lord Jesus. From Genesis 1:1 all the way through to Revelation 22, the whole thing points to Jesus. In fact, if you open it and we keep it right in the middle here, we change from Old Testament to New Testament, and what’s the defining marker here? The birth of Jesus, the entry of Jesus, the coming of Jesus. And so Jesus is the correct and authoritative definer of scripture, and when he defines what Sabbath really ought to mean, there’s no arguing. There’s no, well, let’s see a different perspective. Jesus brings a perspective; let’s see all the perspectives. No. He’s the authoritative definer of what the word means. Why? Because he is the Word. 5 When you try to interpret it any other way, Sabbath or any command, any other way except the way Jesus defines it, you run into problems. You run into either license where you’re ignoring the scripture by interpreting it in a way that it wasn’t intended, and therefore you ignore the command because you want to live the way you want to live. Or you went the opposite extreme, which isn’t license but legalism. The prevailing problem of religious people in Jesus’ day was legalism. Now today the prevailing problem among religious people is the opposite: license. We write a license for us to get away and do whatever we want to do, and we ignore scripture. Legalists on the other hand take one rule and make 40 out of it. So in the Old Testament there are 613 commands. God gives 613 commands. One of them is “You shall honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” There is to be a day of rest, there is to be a time of resting from what is normal and also recharging our batteries, and then also reflecting on God and spending deep and concentrated time with him. So that’s why we come to church and that’s why we make much out of this experience, because we’re taking time away from everything we’ve been doing and we want to concentrate on God. This doesn’t excuse any of us from focusing on him and praying with him and reading his Word daily, but this is 6 like a day concentrated. It’s a high-power vitamin. So my mother-in-law always says when she start to feel a cold coming on, let’s not dilly-dally around, let’s take some extra-concentrated vitamins and overcome this thing before it gets going. That’s what Sabbath is supposed to be. But these legalists take all the joy out of a restful experience and in fact make Sabbath into real work. Let me give you some scriptures. So the Bible has 613 commands. One of them is about Sabbath: honor it and keep it holy. That’s it. And then the legalists take that one command and they say, you know what? If you need to borrow something from your neighbor and you live on the top story of a house and they live on the top story of a house, then if you open your windows and throw something to them, if they catch it, that was keeping the Sabbath. But if they don’t catch it, you worked because you were throwing something and it hit the ground. If you were to write on Sabbath — you’re writing a letter to someone: How are you? You’re catching up with them; you’re sending a quick email or you’re writing a nice letter, whatever you’re doing, that’s work. I find handwriting to be tremendously refreshing. In a digital age when all we ever do is type, type, type and click, click, click, to write a letter on a day of rest is relaxing and refreshing; but it’s work apparently, it’s constructive. 7 If you would have a light out in a room, right — this is today — and you would turn on the light switch, well, you created fire, and therefore you broke the Sabbath. But if you went to your Gentile next-door neighbor, had them come over and they turn on the light switch, you didn’t break Sabbath; even though it’s far much more work to go to your neighbor, have them come and then turn on the light switch rather than you just turn on the light switch. You see, when — this isn’t to criticize or bash, but when we take a command, honor it, keep it holy, well, what does it mean to keep it holy, what does it mean to honor it? I want to make sure I honor it, so I want to make sure I don’t do anything that would dishonor it; and by all your rummaging and thinking and processing and catching up and juggling all of this, it becomes actual work. It’s more work to keep Sabbath than to not keep Sabbath in this legalist type of way. Enter our story, chapter 6 verse 1. “On the Sabbath while Jesus was going through the grainfields his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands.” Is that breaking the commandment of Exodus 20, the fourth command? Is that breaking the Sabbath, breaking the Ten Commandments? If it were breaking the Sabbath, don’t you think Jesus would have said to his disciples: Now, listen, guys, you’re my followers. My followers and me 8 don’t break the commandments. Jesus didn’t intervene, did he? So Jesus doesn’t think that plucking some grain as you’re walking by. It’s on the path, you’re plucking it. It’s like if you’re walking through the woods and you come across an apple tree and you pick an apple and eat it. That’s work according to the Pharisees, for we see in verse 2 some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on Sabbath?” See, they thought that it was breaking the rules, that these people are stealing and corrupting God’s Holy Word, and we can’t have that. People are following Jesus, people are listening to Jesus’ teaching, and if you’re going to follow that kind of teaching, now listen to what that kind of teaching does. That kind of teaching, that teaching of Jesus encourages you to break Sabbath, and we’re the good ones, right? Because his followers are breaking the rules, our followers are keeping the rules; when in fact Jesus is about to say, the only thing you’re keeping is you’re keeping people hell-bound by your legalism. You see, to walk on the path and to take a refreshing stroll and to happen to, you know, rub your hands against the grain as you’re walking on a path and you just — you’re shucking peanuts here, friends. That’s what you’re doing. You’re cracking the grain of the wheat and you’re plucking out the seed that’s sweet and oaty and fresh and delightful; 9 and it’s refreshing, it’s restorative, it’s enjoyable. Is it wrong to enjoy something that God created special? Legalists want to ruin everything that God created special. Now, I’m not saying that we live for enjoyment, enjoyment is the point of life. No, no, no, no. Living with Christ and enjoying his presence is the point of life, and his disciples are doing that very thing. They’re spending time with the Lord, and they’re all on a hike together. Let’s not rob Jesus’ disciples of their joy. But that’s what legalists do. The next story in the following passage, right, that these legalists are trying to rob Jesus’ followers. Listen in verse 6. “On another Sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue, and he was teaching. A man was there whose right hand was withered.” And I imagine these legalists that rob joy from everyone, they’re rubbing their hands together sitting in the corner ready to pounce when Jesus does the right thing. They notice, before Jesus even notices I’m sure, they notice that here’s a man with a withered hand. We know what Jesus does to people like that; Jesus fixes what’s wrong. But he can’t do that on this day. Oh, no, no, you can’t do something good on this day. This day is for rule keeping. And so the scribes and the Pharisees, verse 7, watch him. They’re paying close attention, they’re ready to 10 pounce. They’re like the cougar or the leopard hiding in the grasses ready to get that gazelle; and who do the leopards and the lions go after in the pack of antelope or in the pack of gazelles? They go after the weakest one. Who are they going after? This poor man with a withered hand. And he’s had this withered hand perhaps all of his life. And he just by happenstance bumps into Jesus, and we know the kind of thing Jesus does. Jesus fixes things when he sees that they’re broken. We’re ready to pounce. “They watched him,” verse 7, “to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath.” Not so they might applaud: Thank you. This poor man. Jesus, thank you for fixing this poor man. No. They’re watching him to see whether he would heal on Sabbath so that what? Verse 7 ends. So that what? So that they might find reason to accuse him. Not to applaud him; to accuse, to pounce, ready to go after this, ready to take down the person that’s drawing everyone’s attention and affection away from us, the proper people. You see, we’re the ones working hard to keep everyone on the straight and narrow. We agree with Jesus that narrow is that path that leads to life, and we will guide you on that path. And so these Pharisees, these proper people, they want to make sure everyone keeps the rules, but they forget that it is not by rule keeping that God delights in 11 you. How does God delight in someone? By faith. The righteous person lives by faith, not by works, so that no one should boast. Keep a finger here. Go to Galatians chapter 2, and if you just want to listen, that’s fine as well. Galatians chapter 2, I want to read for you verses 3 through 5. This pouncing, this tendency to just crouch and wait and strike someone that would dare to live a Christian life in a free and joyful way. This is not just the Pharisees. This is ongoing, this is a problem all types of religious people have, and we need to be aware that Jesus wants us to have joy; and so we shouldn’t rob others of joy and we shouldn’t rob ourselves of joy by being sticklers. There’s something called a spirit of the law, not the letter of the law. Listen to what it says. This is Galatians 2 verse 3. “Even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised.” This is Paul coming to Jerusalem, talking with the 12 apostles, and now he’s there and he brought Titus, and Titus is a Gentile, not a Jew. He’s uncircumcised. And they did not force Titus to be circumcised, even though he was Greek. Verse 4. “Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus so that they might bring us into slavery, to them we did not yield in submission for even a moment, so that the truth of 12 the gospel might be preserved for you.” What is the Apostle Paul’s tact towards legalists? What is Jesus’ approach towards legalists? We need to put an end to any kind of conclusion that that is acceptable, faithful living. Stickler-ism has no part of the Christian experience, and Paul in verse 5 seeks to expose that, doesn’t he? Where we did not stand with them even a moment; we stand in opposition towards them every single moment so that they would understand that that is not what is Christian living and so that everyone around would understand that we don’t follow that kind of legalistic approach. To not yield to legalism. If we do, we become slaves. Isn’t that what he said in verse 4? We become slaves when we yield to legalism. Christ came to set us free. If the Son has set you free, you’re free indeed. And so we follow him, and we follow by the Spirit of God. We follow the Spirit, and we won’t carry out the desires of the flesh. Or to apply what we learned last week, we are new wineskins, and Jesus has poured new wine into these new wineskins. We are not submitting ourselves to the old wineskins of old legalistic commands. Instead we are following the new law, the royal law that Jesus lays down. “Love each other even as I have loved you.” When we focus on rules and we wrap ourselves around so 13 tightly in making sure that we keep those rules, we lack love, we lack joy, we lack peace, we lack patience and kindness and goodness and faithfulness; we lack gentleness and we lack self-control. And I think most people get themselves into legalism because they think, well, I struggle with this temptation, and if I create a set of rules that I’m not going to break, then I’ll avoid the temptation. Paul says in Colossians chapter 2, such man-made religion has no power against the flesh, because your temptation is not outside of you, your temptation is the thing in your heart that you’re susceptible to. The only solution to overpower your temptation is moment by moment yielding to the Spirit. Holy Spirit, greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world. But I’ve been struggling with this temptation. I’m weak. Every time I give in. Every rule I set up I fail and I keep giving in, and Spirit, now I’m saying to you: you are in me; you are God Almighty; and I’m tired of doing this in my own strength. Spirit, would you empower me to overcome this? That is a very different approach than legalism. That is a joy-filled discipleship approach that we’re going to talk about. But the legalism that we think is going to work: I’ll keep all these rules and then I’ll make sure I avoid that 14 temptation, that doesn’t work. Because Jesus said to the Pharisees in Matthew chapter 23, “You are like whitewashed tombs; outwardly pristine, beautiful.” Everyone would look at that and say: wow, that is so pure; wow, that is so white. What’s the problem with whitewashed tombs? It’s not the outside. What’s the inside? Dead, rotting bones. The approach of legalism says I want to be pure; I want to be whole; I want to be white. I want to be a pure reflection of what God wants everyone to be; I want to be a city on a hill. Jesus wants us to be cities on the hill, but when we try to be a city on the hill through legalism, we look pure on the outside, but inwardly we’re rotting bones. Jesus says there’s another way, and it’s in Matthew chapter 11. I’d ask you to turn there if you could. Matthew chapter 11. This is the other passage corresponding with Luke chapter 6. This is the exact same passage, and so let’s look at it. We’ll begin in verse 28. Listen to the word of the Lord, Matthew 11 verse 28. “Come to me, all 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, my burden is light.” See, let’s just transition now. From legalism, robbing 15 you of joy, what do you hear here in Matthew 11? Rest, joy, delight. All who are weary and heavy laden. I’ve tried. I’ve been carrying this burden, I’ve been carrying this lack of self-control, this temptation I keep giving myself into, and God, it keeps piling guilt on my shoulders because I keep failing. And I’ve listened to the Pharisees and all their rules, and their rules have failed me, and I’m heavy laden. They’ve put extra rules on me; God’s put rules on me from his Word and they’ve put their extra rules on top of all that; and I’m just overwhelmed. And Jesus says, here’s the answer. “Come to me,” he says. “Come to me; I will give you rest, rest for your soul.” See, it’s not about physical rest, it’s about mental, spiritual, psychological, and just soul rest, spirit rest; where I’m not carrying that guilt around anymore, where I’m overcoming now by his power, not my own. See, that’s the power of faith in Jesus. That’s what separates Christianity from man-made religion that says do it and God will delight in you. And Christianity says Jesus has done it, and he delights in you and he delights to give you rest if you would only come. See, those are two very different things. Legalism robs us of joy. Jesus came to give us joy, give us rest. And now we’re in chapter 11 in Matthew. Look in Matthew chapter 12, the very next verse. “At that time 16 Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath.” You see, it’s the exact same story of Luke, and it starts with I’ll give you rest. Now we’re walking on the Sabbath day plucking grains, and that is restful. It’s not breaking the command. It is restful, because Jesus came to give us his rest. You see the redefinition. The legalist definition of Sabbath is you must work your tail off to make sure you don’t fail on Sabbath day. That’s the legalistic approach to rest. That’s not restful at all, that’s work. That’s more work than if you were at the job. Now Jesus comes, he says the exact opposite. Delight yourself in me; enjoy my presence; and you’ll experience Sabbath every moment of your life. I came that you could have rest, rest for your soul. See the contrast. I want to wrap up point No. 1, and we’ll jump straight into No. 2. Take out your connection card. The last thing I’m just thinking about with rule keeping, legalists use the scriptures to hit people. Have you ever heard, you know — what is the phrase about taking your Bible and whacking someone with it? Bible thumpers. We’re not thumping it on the table or the pulpit, we’re thumping it on your head, you reckless soul. And God doesn’t want us to use the Bible to thump people. He wants us to use the Bible in gracious ways and tender ways and care-filled ways, and so maybe you just need to decide, maybe I’ve been a bit too legalistic. I’m 17 going to start using God’s Word to bless someone instead of to point out how much that they fail. I think that’s a good approach. Maybe you need to decide to do that today. Let’s get into point No. 2. All right, so we’ve juxtaposed the legalist with now Jesus. Jesus comes to give them joy: joy in Sabbath, joy in every command, joy in every part of life. In the first story we see a new perspective on Sabbath. That yes, walking is restful; yes, plucking grains and rolling the seeds and blowing off the chaff and eating the wheat kernels, that is tremendously restful. Shucking peanuts on Sabbath is fine. All right? Good, because I love peanuts. And Jesus loves nuts apparently, right, like you, like me. All right. So and then the next story is this healing, right, in verse 6. He enters the synagogue; he’s teaching on Sabbath; there’s this man with the withered hand; and he asks the Pharisees a question. Notice in verse 8. “He knew their thoughts, and so he said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Come and stand here.’ So he rose and stood there.” So here’s this man with a withered hand; here’s Jesus presumably sitting while he’s teaching. All the Pharisees, the whole worship, the synagogue, everyone is there, and Jesus is pointing out this man, and before he heals him he takes this opportunity to teach us about rule keeping. He says, “On Sabbath day is it right to do good or is it more 18 right to do wrong?” Because no matter what I do, I’m either going to do right in this situation or I will be wrong if I take a certain action on this situation. Is it right for me to save a life or is it better for me to destroy a life? Now, what’s the answer to this question? Is it better to do right or do wrong? Answer? CONGREGATION: Right. PASTOR SCHMOYER: The question still remains, what is right and what is wrong. Is it better to destroy a life today or to save a life today? Which is better? CONGREGATION: To save a life. PASTOR SCHMOYER: To save the life. Now, here’s a man with a withered hand. He’s not going anywhere. If Jesus would just wait until Sunday instead of doing this on Saturday, the day of Sabbath, right? The man with the withered hand wouldn’t be any more destroyed, and Jesus would not upset anybody by doing this tremendous thing on a day we’re all supposed to take off. Plumbers don’t plumb. All right? And teachers don’t teach and healers don’t heal apparently on the day that they’re supposed to rest. And Jesus says no. Look, if I would not heal him today, I would be destroying him. Wow. If I would not fix this problem today, I would be destroying him. Maybe we just need to say that about our problems that we face. The ongoing cold wars that you have maybe in your marriage, 19 maybe with someone at work, maybe your next-door neighbor, the ongoing tension and cold war; and we just need to say if I just wait one more day, I would be destroying this relationship, and I want to bring healing to this relationship; I’m done waiting. And we don’t use Sabbath as the excuse, but we use, well, time would heal all wounds. Is that true? I think sometimes time actually kind of ruins. The longer it goes, the more pain there is. Fix it today. Today is the day of salvation. Don’t keep putting it off, don’t keep waiting. Fix it now. And Jesus says if I don’t fix this person’s withered hand now, I would be destroying him; it would be harmful to him, I would be hating him by not fixing him now. You see, Jesus brings joy. He doesn’t wait until tomorrow to bring joy, he brings joy now. Imagine this man for 20, 30, 40 years he’s had this withered hand, perhaps born that way with this withered hand; and Jesus says of all the days, this is the very best day to do it. The day we’ve gathered, the day we’re celebrating, the day the house of God is assembled, and today is a day of jubilance. We’re celebrating our majestic God. Of all seven days, this is perhaps the best day for this poor man to be restored. On another Sabbath day Jesus is teaching on Sabbath in the synagogue, and there’s this woman with this problem, and 20 she’s struggled with it for decades. And Jesus says, It is proper, it is proper for me to fix this problem on Sabbath. I can’t wait any other day; this is the best day to do it. And in our relationships when we feel that something is broken, maybe this day, the day of rest, is the best day to fix it. See, Jesus brings joy. He is the Sabbath. Look in verse 5. All right? So at the very end of the story of David eating the showbread off the table in the temple, David and his friends were on the run. Saul was looking to kill them, and they took refuge in the tabernacle, and the priest gave them bread from the show table. This is bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. They gave it to David and his disciples. And Jesus interprets that story and says, it is right to save a life even if we have to break the law to save the life. It is right to do that. It is right for Corrie ten Boom and her family to save those Jews and hide them from Hitler and his hateful and wicked schemings. It was right for people like Harriet Tubman and the abolitionists and people like us, right? The Mennonites and Quakers were in that movement of the railroad. What was this? The underground railroad. Before the subway there was the underground railroad. It was proper to break the law and to steal a slave and to rescue them from their slavery, it was proper. 21 And it’s proper for me to give my disciples joy on the Sabbath. Why? Because verse 5, “The Son of Man is the Lord of Sabbath.” He’s not saying because I’m Lord I’m allowed to break the rules that I set up. That is not what he is saying. In fact the Greek most woodenly is rendered properly this way: “The Son of Man is the Lord and the Sabbath.” That is actually the most woodenly literal way to put it: “The Son of Man is the Lord and the Sabbath.” Now all of our translators translate it that way, one way or another, the Son of Man is Lord of Sabbath. I’m not saying that that’s wrong; that is a great way to render it. But he is saying, I am the rest that y’all have been looking for. Just as a weary worker looks forward to the weekend — everyone is working for the weekend, right? Everyone is working for the weekend. Just as much as we long for that rest that’s coming on the weekend, so the people of old looked forward to a coming rest when the Messiah would come. All right? Jesus was the rest that everyone was looking forward to, and built into every week God had arranged it so that you would be hungry for your day of rest. So that when the man of rest came, Jesus, the Lord of Sabbath, Jesus, Sabbath himself comes, now you can delight in him even more than you delight to wait for the weekend because you’ve been working all week just to get to the weekend. Jesus brings joy. He is Sabbath. And so I think the 22 reason he takes the Pharisees’ accusations so hard is because he himself is rest, and because of the legalism of the Pharisees the Sabbath day’s rest isn’t restful anymore. And so the people aren’t working for the weekend. They hate the weekend; it’s so much work to keep the Sabbath; and Jesus is mad at the Pharisees because they’ve ruined what everyone was supposed to be anticipating. That they were supposed to delight so much in being restful on this day, now when the Messiah comes and he himself is rest, rest for our souls, but the Pharisees ruined this anticipatory thing by making Sabbath so much hard work. We’ve read Matthew 1. Go to Hebrews chapter 4. I want to show you something cool here with regard to Sabbath and Jesus. All right. So we’re in Hebrews chapter 4. We covered this maybe what, six years ago. It’s been six years since we were in Hebrews 4 just for the record. Listen to what it says. We’ll read a couple verses in chapter 4. We’ll start at verses 1 through 3, and I’ll break it apart piece by piece. It says this: “Therefore, while the promise of entering God’s rest still stands, let us fear lest any one of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us in the same way as them, but the message they heard did not benefit them because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed 23 enter that rest, as God said, ‘I swore in my wrath, they shall not enter my rest.'” What is the apostle saying here? He’s saying that the Old Testament Jews, although they receive the day of rest, they did not receive God’s rest. Why? Verse 2. They didn’t join faith to their restfulness. Let’s look in verses 4 and 5. “For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day this way: ‘God rested on the seventh day from all his works.’ And again in this passage God said, ‘They will not enter my rest.'” So what is he doing? He’s saying they have the fourth commandment, “You shall honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy,” but they don’t have my rest. They have a day off of work, but they don’t have the joyfulness of relaxing in God’s presence. That there’s no barrier anymore, there’s no wall of division between me and God anymore; I rest in our abiding relationship. They did not have that. Why? Verse 2, because they didn’t have faith. So look in verses 6 and following. “Since therefore it remains for some to enter, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of their disobedience, again God appoints a certain day, ‘today,’ saying through David so long afterward, in the words already spoken, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’ For if Joshua had given them rest, God would have not spoken 24 of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. Whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God rested from God’s works.” So when God created the heavens and the earth, he built it in six literal days, on the seventh day God rested. And, therefore, he says to you and to I, I rested, and I’m God. Do you think you’re God? Well, even if you do, I rested, so you rest. They took a day off, they stopped working, but they still kept working for their salvation. Verse 10 says we have entered God’s rest if we’ve rested from our works. See, I rest in what Jesus has done, I rest in Jesus’ works. I don’t rest in my own works. I don’t go to God and say, look at all I’ve done; you must surely let me into your heavenly abode. I deserve heaven, Jesus, because of all that I’ve done good. No. You can’t do that. You enter God’s rest when you rest from your works. If you trusted Jesus and what he’s done instead of trusting in what you could possibly do, you’ve already and always are in his rest. Jesus himself is your Sabbath. You’re resting in what he has accomplished for you if in fact you are. I would encourage you to take to heart, all right, Jesus, do I trust in you? Do I trust in what you’ve done on the cross? Do I trust that as I follow you you’re working 25 out your good purposes in my life? Or do I trust in myself? I’m pretty good; God grades on a curve; I’m better than the average bear, so he’ll let me in surely. Oh, friend, you will never enter God’s rest with that kind of attitude. You will keep on working day after day after day because no amount of effort is good enough. Perfection is what God expects, and you will only be perfect if you take your rest in Jesus Christ. So how will you respond; how will you respond to this teaching? Jesus and his disciples enjoyed picking the grains, relaxing on Sabbath and taking a stroll. The man stretched out his arm on Sabbath. Jesus saved life on Sabbath. The legalists would have ruined all of that and not take joy and not do well and just sit there and fester and nitpick and divide. How are you going to respond to Jesus, the Sabbath; Jesus, our rest? The passage ends in verse 11 where it says that the Pharisees were full of fury. I don’t want you to come to God’s house and be full of fury, I don’t want you to hear from God’s Word and be full of fury. I want you to leave God’s house and be delighted that you met with God and heard from God. But they were full of fury, plotting Jesus’ undoing. And so how do you respond to God’s Word? Everyone here responded. How will you respond? I would ask you to 26 respond in this way: “I will yield to Jesus’ Lordship of every part of my life.” And maybe he needs to undo some things that you’ve built up in your heart. Maybe he needs to unload some of those burdens that you have weighing you down. I would ask you to yield to Jesus with all of your life and trust him for all of your eternity. Let’s pray. God, thank you for your word, thank you for its truth. We love you, we praise you, we honor your Lordship. You’re Lord of Sabbath, you’re Lord of lives; and God, there might be someone here today that’s saying, I’ve made him my Lord, but there’s this part of me that just doesn’t want to give up, doesn’t want to give over this sinful practice or this idol that I stroke all the time. Maybe it’s money, maybe it’s enjoyment, maybe it’s relationship. I just keep cherishing it rather than cherishing Christ. And, Jesus, I know you’re asking us to give over all that we are to you. Maybe there’s someone here that needs to say that today. Maybe there’s someone here that says, you know, I love God, I love his Word, but I’ve been a bit too nitpicky, I’ve been too much of a legalist; and, Jesus, I need to use your Word to build up people, not to tear down people. Maybe, God, you’re showing someone here today they need to come to that point. Maybe, Lord, there’s somewhere in this room that you’re 27 rummaging through a heart right now, and that heart is saying to itself, I’ve never come to the place of asking Jesus to come into my life and be my Lord and be my Savior. So, friend, maybe today is the day that God is saying to you: Be saved, friend, be saved. And if you’re ready to do that, if you’re ready to receive the forgiveness of your sins and receive the gift of eternal life and receive the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome the sins that you find yourself trapped by, today is the day. The scripture says today if you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts but respond in faith. And so I would ask you to pray with me, pray in your heart, pray quietly to the Lord in your heart and say to him: Jesus, I believe that you are the Savior of the world. Save me from all that I’ve done wrong. I know you went to the cross to pay the punishment of my sin. I deserved that cross, and you took my cross and you bore my pain. Thank you. Forgive me, come into my life, give me the gift of your Spirit, give me the gift of eternal life. Your Word promises eternal life. It means even after I die I will live with you in heaven forever. I believe all of this, I believe what you have done, and I am trusting you and I’m no longer trusting in myself. You are the satisfaction of my bill before God. You paid it all, and so I’m coming to you. Friend, if you pray a prayer like that, welcome to 28 God’s family. He’s adopted you into his household. He’s ready to love you, care for you, be with you, walk with you, and enjoy this life side by side with you. Welcome. Now, God, as we respond to you in song we pray that the songs of our heart and the praise of our lips would bring honor to you, and we pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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