Introduction: The Sabbath is a special time. When I was very young,
it was the day when the family was all together. No doubt there were
times that I wished the Sabbath day would end because my parents
restricted what I could do on the Sabbath. When I was in college, it
was a great day to spend with my girlfriend and not have to study. In
law school and thereafter in life, it was a wonderful time to rest
without guilt. Normally, I’ve got things to do and deadlines to
meet. But, since I believe that working on Sabbath is a sin, it was a
guilt-free rest. What is the Biblical basis for taking the Sabbath
seriously? How should we view the Sabbath? Let’s dive into our Bibles
and find out!

  1. Creation Sabbath

    1. Read Genesis 2:1-2. Why do you think God took six days to
      create “the heavens and earth … in all their vast
      array?” (Based on the account in Genesis 1, it seems that
      God could have done it all instantly. But, He had
      something in mind. I suspect it was giving humans a
      pattern for work and rest.)

    2. Read Genesis 2:3. We can all understand the need for rest
      after all God accomplished, but why would He “bless” the
      seventh day and make it “holy?” (It seems God wanted a
      special time to celebrate His work of creation.)

    3. Read 1 Samuel 7:12-13. Samuel memorialized the Israelite
      victory over the Philistines by setting up the Ebenezer
      stone. Why? (The people would be reminded of the victory
      that God had given them.)

      1. Is the Ebenezer stone like the Sabbath? (I think it
        is exactly the same kind of thing.)

    4. Read Exodus 20:8-10. Can animals remember the Creation?
      Why does God include them? (God wants us to give a rest to
      all those within our control. The Sabbath does not depend
      on wealth, power or influence. It is for all.)

    5. Read Exodus 20:11. This is thousands of years after the
      Creation. What does this suggest about the Sabbath? (It is
      permanent institution memorializing the Creation.)

    6. Read Deuteronomy 5:12-15. Why does this statement of the
      Fourth Commandment give us a different reason for the
      Sabbath? (The reason here is that God rescued His people
      from Egyptian slavery. This suggests the Sabbath is a
      memorial for all God has done for His people – created a
      perfect world for them and rescued them from slavery.)

    7. Read Matthew 27:50-52. We just celebrated Easter. We
      recognize this as a text telling us about Jesus’
      crucifixion on our behalf. What does this say happened at
      the moment of Jesus’ death? (Among other things, many
      people were raised to life.)

      1. Assume Jesus was your child, and your child was
        terribly brutalized and killed. Assume that at the
        same time your child won the Super Bowl of the
        universe. If you were God, would you raise Jesus to
        life while He was still on the cross – just like
        these others were raised to life — and gloriously
        welcome Him to heaven? (Yes, of course we would.)

        1. Why did God wait until Sunday? (This is exactly
          the same pattern we have seen before with the
          Sabbath – Jesus rested in the grave on the
          Sabbath to memorialize His next great work –
          saving us from sin and death. He rested on the
          Sabbath to memorialize Creation. He rested on
          the Sabbath to memorialize freedom from
          Egyptian slavery. He rested on the Sabbath to
          memorialize our rescue from the slavery of sin
          and our new relationship with God!)

    8. Read Isaiah 66:22-23. When should we stop observing the
      Sabbath? (Never! God tells us that Sabbath observance will
      continue in the earth made new.)

      1. What do you think the Sabbath will stand for then?
        (Read Isaiah 66:24. This suggests that we celebrate
        God’s ultimate victory over the rebellion. Victory
        over sin, sickness and death.)

  2. The Sabbath and Natural Law

    1. We have previously decided that the moral law (which
      includes Sabbath worship) is a map to help us avoid
      running into trouble by violating the natural laws of the
      universe. How does the Sabbath fit into that logical

    2. Read Mark 2:23-24. What is the basis for the Pharisees’
      charge? (No doubt working on Sabbath.)

    3. Read Mark 2:25-26. Two weeks ago we heard Jesus give a
      similar response. The religious leaders say that His
      disciples are violating the law and Jesus responds “you
      also violate the law.” Do two wrongs make a right?

      1. What do you think Jesus is really saying? (Jesus is
        too smart to respond, “You’re one too.” He must be
        saying that when King David and his companions
        satisfied their hunger with consecrated bread this
        was appropriate. Thus, Jesus’ disciples could satisfy
        their hunger on a consecrated day.)

        1. If hunger trumps consecration, what does that
          teach us about the Sabbath and eating?

    4. Read Mark 2:27-28. What does Jesus mean when He says, “The
      Sabbath was made for man?” (The Sabbath is not supposed to
      be painful, it is supposed to be a time of joy. It was
      made to give us a break from our daily obligations.)

      1. What point is Jesus making when He says that He (“the
        Son of Man”) is “Lord even of the Sabbath?” (Jesus
        created the Sabbath ( John 1:1-3), and therefore He
        gets to authoritatively describe its purpose and how
        it should be observed.)

      2. How does Jesus’ statement fit into our understanding
        of natural law? (It tells us that everyone needs a
        Sabbath rest. Eating is part of that rest.)

  3. The Sabbath and Healing

    1. Read Mark 3:1-2. Why would the religious leaders suspect
      that Jesus would heal on the Sabbath? (He must have done
      it before. Or, at a minimum, they were beginning to
      understand Jesus’ view of Sabbath-keeping.)

    2. Read Mark 3:3-4. Why does Jesus ask this question? (He is
      intending to teach. This is a point He thinks is

    3. Read Mark 3:5. Was it necessary to heal this fellow’s hand
      on Sabbath? (Absolutely not. It was no emergency.)

      1. Why was Jesus angry? (He was upset that their
        understanding of the Sabbath was so corrupted.)

      2. What lesson about the Sabbath should we learn from
        this account? (That doing good for others on the
        Sabbath is in accord with the purpose of the

      3. What does this say about Jesus and Sabbath-keeping
        standards? Are they gone? (This story teaches just
        the opposite. Jesus wants humans to understand the
        appropriate Sabbath-keeping standards. If He didn’t
        care, He would not have taken the time to address
        this issue.)

    4. Read Mark 3:6 and review Mark 3:4. How much of Jesus’
      anger would this explain? (Jesus knew they were willing to
      spend their Sabbath plotting His death. He, on the other
      hand, was giving more abundant life.)

    5. Read John 5:5-6 and John 5:8-11. This healing was
      obviously not an emergency. Carrying the mat was not a
      necessary part of the healing. What lesson is Jesus

    6. Read John 5:14 and John 5:16-17. We have several moving
      parts here. A non-emergency Sabbath healing. Commands to
      carry a mat on Sabbath and to stop sinning. The statement
      that Jesus works on the Sabbath. How would you put these
      parts together to make sense about Sabbath-keeping?
      (First, Jesus is not rebelling against the law because He
      says, “Stop sinning.” Second, healing, mat carrying, and
      certain work must be consistent with the Sabbath.)

      1. What kind of work is consistent with the Sabbath?
        (Helping others. Lifting others up.)

      2. What about carrying the mat? (Being able to carry his
        mat was part of the restoration miracle.)

    7. Friend, does this study give you a better vision of God’s
      goal for His Sabbath? It is a day to celebrate what God
      has done for us. It is a day to take a break from our
      regular activities. It is a day to restore others. Will
      you determine to properly keep the Sabbath?

  4. Next week: Christ’s Death and the Law.