Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Jesus: Go ahead, speed if you must!

In his teaching (or "smackdown") of the teachers, Jesus excised the Pharisees' wooden view of the Sabbath. He explicitly permitted such practicalities as healing and plucking corn, at least if you have no other food. Apparently it had not been to prevent that sort of "work" that God commanded His people to keep the Sabbath holy. He also argued with the Pharisees regarding the significance of the Sabbath, stating that the Sabbath was made for man and not vice versa. And he made one of his most explicit claims of divinity, asserting his own supremacy over the Sabbath and presumably, by extension, the whole of the law:

"The Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath." (Matt 12:8)

Similarly he berated the Pharisees for attaching equal importance to “tithing of mint and cummin” and weightier precepts of justice and mercy. As an example of this error a later rabbi even had this advice, contra Jesus: “pay as much attention to a light precept as to a heavy one.” (Found in the Mishnah.) 

Nope. Jesus taught the equivalent of “you can go over the speed limit for a little while, if it is for the greater good of avoiding an accident.” Or consider this: Rahab did the right thing in telling a lie to protect the Hebrew agents.

That is not a license for abuse. If you are of the view (I am not) that the first day of the week is the new Sabbath, complete with Sabbath restrictions (of which I would say, while I don't see it as commanded,  I approve in the sense that it's not a bad idea) then you are being inconsistent if you allow for too many "works of necessity" or "that's not actually work for me, it's pleasure and relaxation" exceptions. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

My view of the Sabbath, in case you are interested, is that we are in the eternal Sabbath rest afforded by the finished work of Christ. (So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, Heb 4:9.) I suppose whether this is a high view or a low view of the Sabbath depends on your perspective.

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