June 3 – Second Sunday After Pentecost
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Grace and peace to you as you rest in the Lord, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Remember the Sabbath Day by keep it Holy. That’s the Third commandment and that’s the topic of both the Old Testament and the Gospel reading for this morning. In many ways, it’s a good topic to start the summer months with and the Pentecost season. So, how do you remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it Holy? [Switch back and forth from slide 1 & 2] Does it matter? Can you keep the Sabbath day in either situation? Well to be able to answer those questions you need to be able to define what you mean by the Sabbath Day and keeping it Holy.
So, what does the Sabbath day mean? The word ‘Sabbath’ means ‘rest’ and when God gave this commandment to the Israelites He wanted them to take a day of rest each week, where they didn’t work as they did on all the other days. God knows that we all need a day of rest each week to let our bodies recover from all the daily work we do, thus this commandment, but there is more to this commandment than that.
Now if we don’t give our bodies rest we will eventually wear our bodies down and bad things will start to happen. For many of us the summer time is a time to plan a vacation, a time for rest from our daily routine. God also knows that we need more than physical and mental rest, we also need spiritual rest. So, God says to the Israelites, “Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.” (Deu. 5:12 – 14)
We all need rest, physically, mentally and especially spiritual because we are in a war against the devil and the evil of this world. If you get rest physically and mentally and not spiritually you will find your body and your spiritual life failing. We all need all three forms of rest and if one is over worked, the other two will also fail you. It is also important for all the people around you to get all three forms of rest or their bodies will become overloaded and break down also. The rest that God is calling us to is all three forms and that true form of rests comes through our relationship with God.
The Pharisees in our Gospel reading for today took the command of God to the extreme, they thought that it was punishable by death to do any work on the Sabbath day, the 7th day of the week, when God rested from creating all the universe. Jesus shows them that God wants our rest to be a blessing, not to be burdened of laws that takes away our daily needs or the needs of others, but a way of building up our lives and sharing God’s love for others. Our rest should be one that helps us get prepared for the tasks that we have in this life and thus He says to us, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mk 2: 27 – 28) God gives us rest through His Word and Sacrament so that we will be equipped with God’s armor so that we are ready to deal with the battle we will have with the Devil and his army of evil. Luther in His explanation of the Third Commandment says this, “We are to fear and love God, so that we do not despise preaching or God’s word, but instead keep that word holy and gladly hear and learn it.”
To understand what God is getting at with the word Sabbath you need to know the hidden meaning of the Hebrew word Sabbath, שַּׁבָּ֖֨ת. If you look at the Hebrew word for Sabbath you have a word that is made up of three Hebrew letters, שַּׁ – S, בָּ֖֨ – abba, ת – th. These three letters are in many ways like the texting symbols that our younger generation uses so well, I myself am confused with the texting short hand that is sometimes used and have to write out my text in complete sentences. The three letters in the Hebrew word ‘Sabbath’ stand for “My – Father – signs.” To put it in plain English, Sabbath means being in my Father’s signs or words, that is to truly rest we need to dwell on the signs and words that God our Father has given to us to help us in our daily life.
So, where are the signs of our Creator Father in this world? Well God definitely is found in nature, but to understand who God is and what God wants us to know about Him we have to get into God’s Word and Sacraments, God’s Means of Grace. Through God’s Word and Sacraments, we are not only told about our Almighty Creator God, but also we learn about the situation that we have put ourselves into; sin, death and the power of the devil, and God’s solution for our problems. It was Jesus Christ who came into this world to become our lord even of the Sabbath, that is by His life, death and resurrection, He brought us back to the true rest found in the loving hands of God.
God originally gave us the perfect resting place with Him in His creation of the perfect world, but we broke that perfect world by falling into sin, which destroyed the relationship that God wants to have with you and me. That is why Jesus came to be the Lord of the Sabbath, to show us the signs of God’s love for us and to bring us back into that loving relationship with God once again. Yes, Jesus came into this world to bring the Sabbath rest back to us. So, if you truly want the rest that you need, you have to let God be the source for that rest.
So, how do we keep the Sabbath Holy? Well rest in itself is only Holy when God is source of the relationship that we are focusing on. So thus, the true Sabbath rest is Holy as we come to the Altar of God through His Word and Sacraments. We find our Sabbath rest is Holy as we learn and dig deeper into God’s Word and grow in our faith. We find our Sabbath rest is Holy as we proclaim God’s Word in our neighborhood and to other parts of the world. We find our Sabbath rest is holy as we get involved in working together for a common goal of God’s mission with other believers. We find our Sabbath rest is holy as we have fellowship and grow in our ability of sharing God’s love with one another. Yes, Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy means giving glory to God and resting in His loving arms. Now that’s the Sabbath rest we are all looking forward to having for all eternity in the heavenly Home prepared for us by God working in this world and in our lives to give us His love, peace and rest forever.
Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it Holy. The true Sabbath rest is found in God’s Church where God’s Word is taught in all its truth and purity and were God’s Sacraments give us His blessings, so that we can have the rest in Him that renews and strengthens our lives physically, mentally and Spiritually. So, come to the altar of God and receive God’s Blessings so that you can find the rest you need in this world now and forever as the Holy Spirit works in our lives through God’s Word and Sacrament in His Church. Amen.