2nd Sunday after Pentecost | Mark 2:23-38; 3:1-6 | Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath
It’s been less than a week since Memorial Day,
And I truly hope that everyone got some rest.
Rest is good for you.
Rest is good for your family.
Rest is even good for the animals and for farmers’ fields.
That’s just the way God built the world.
So please don’t make the classic American mistake.
Please take all your vacation, and take all your rest.
You need it.
And, frankly, others need it, too.
It isn’t just for your health…
Surely you’ve noticed that when you have a good rest,
You tend to come back better:
Stronger, happier, more creative, energized –
Ready to do all that lies ahead of you,
Ready to do the work of your vocation,
And to do it well.
And when you do, you see that your rest is not just good for you, but for the world –
Your rest is actually good for everyone.
But, that’s not really new; and you don’t need the Bible to see it.
This truth is woven into creation, and into everyone’s heart.
But when Jesus teaches on the meaning of the Sabbath day,
He isn’t just talking about taking it easy.
If Sabbath means nothing more than to stop doing what you were doing,
If it is just a pause in the action so you can recharge;
Then it is incomplete, insufficient, and even sinful;
Because that kind of rest ignores God’s purpose in giving the Law;
That kind of rest rips away Jesus’lordship over the Sabbath,
And makes youlord of the Sabbath.
That kind of rest is an idol:
Undemanding, unmoving, uncaring, deaf and mute –
In short: an idle idol –
Easily worshiped from your couch.
Contrast that with the Third Commandment given in today’s OT text.
Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.
What does this mean?
The Small Catechism explains it simply enough:
“We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word,
but hold it sacred, and gladly hear and learn it.”
It means the Sabbath is not kept holy on the beach, or at Disneyland –
Not that any of you would consider Disneyland a “rest.”
It means the Sabbath is not remembered from your living room.
There’s nothing wrong with some peace and quiet,
But the true rest God intends for you is not fulfilled in silence.
It is fulfilled in hearing.
God does not command the Sabbath because He needs your worship and praise.
God commands the Sabbath because of your need.
You work hard.
You pray hard.
You serve your neighbor, your kids, your spouse, and your parents.
You are tempted, tested, and tried.
You are sojourners, pilgrims, and veterans of spiritual war.
That makes you very much like David and his men,
The ones Jesus mentioned in the Gospel you just heard.
You are attacked, pursued, harassed, hungry and in need.
You need real Sabbath; you need real rest,
And forgiveness for all the times you tried to get that rest on your own terms.
You need to be restored, nourished, and strengthened.
The rest that God gives, the Sabbath that God gives,
Is found only in the One who is Lord of that Sabbath.
God’s rest is found only in Christ:
In the proclamation and hearing of His Word,
And in the faithful reception of the Sacraments –
In the forgiveness of sins.
Jesus went willingly to the cross to win that forgiveness for you,
For everyone at home on their couch,
And even the folks this very moment going down Splash Mountain.
Jesus won the forgiveness of sins on the cross,
But nobody gets the forgiveness of sins at the cross.
In his treatise of 1525,“Against the Heavenly Prophets,” Luther writes:
“If now I seek the forgiveness of sins, I do not run to the cross, for I will not find it given there. Nor must I hold to the suffering of Christ, as Dr. Karlstadt trifles, in knowledge or remembrance, for I will not find it there either. But I will find in the sacrament or gospel the [W]ord that distributes, presents, offers, and gives to me the forgiveness that was won on the cross.”
YourSabbath, yourrest, the forgiveness of yoursins,
God gives you here in this place.
David and his men could have gotten bread somewhere else.
But they didn’t.
God’s people receive their true rest and nourishment in Hishouse.
The Bread of the Presence that David and his men ate there was meant only for the priests.
That is still true.
So its very good news that in Holy Baptism,
God has made youa kingdom of priests, a holy nation.
And so everything God gives here is for you.
Here is the forgiveness of sins.
Here is true Sabbath rest:
Jesus’ Baptism poured over you;
Jesus’ Absolution, proclaimed to you;
Jesus’ Gospel, applied to you;
Jesus’ Body & Blood, fed to you.
And when God rests you like that,
When Jesus has His Sabbath way with you,
Don’t be surprised when He puts you and all that is yours to work.
Be ready to be used well.
You were like that man with the withered hand, except it wasn’t your hand.
It was your whole body, mind, soul, and spirit.
Shriveled, weak, and useless.
But Jesus has rested you,
So He really can use you well now.
Formerly withered hands can rub your wife’s sore back.
Formerly withered eyes can see opportunity to serve your neighbor.
Formerly withered ears can listen to those who are hurting.
Formerly withered lips can build others up, and share the Good News of Jesus.
Formerly withered feet can bring you back here to be Sabbathed again and again.
You want to see Jesus get a lot done in the world and in the Church?
Let’s all have a good rest all summer.
And then, let’s have a good rest all year, and then the year after that,
And the year after that.
Until we are Sabbathed forever and ever, and to the ages of ages.