What is to be our attitude to the Sabbath?
The best way to develop a proper attitude, a Christian attitude, to the Sabbath is to look, first of all, at Jesus' attitude to the Sabbath.
In a very real sense, the specific question, "What is to be my attitude to the Sabbath?" is included in the broader question, "What is to be my attitude to Jesus?"
As we look Jesus' attitude to the Sabbath, with a view to answering the question, "What is to be my attitude to the Sabbath?", we notice two key features.
- There is Someone greater than the Sabbath - Jesus (John 5:18). this is the dividing line between a disciple and a Pharisee. A disciple comes to the Saviour. A Pharisee, with all his Sabbath-keeping, does not acknowledge his need of the Saviour.
- Jesus viewed His whole life as holy to God and wholly to God (John 5:17) for service.
From these two observations about Jesus, we note five further principles concerning the place of the Sabbath in the life of Christian discipleship.
(1) Our essential commitment is to the Lord.
It is the Lord who calls us to be His disciples. Being a Christian is more than mere allegiance to a code of ethics. It is a matter of undivided loyalty to a Person - Christ. There is no such thing as a call to be a Sabbatarian, in some sense that is independent of the call to follow Jesus. Christ's call is the call to be a Christian. It is possible to be a Sabbatarian without being a Christian.The Pharisees promoted Sabbath-keeping (John 5:10), yet they crucified Christ (John 5:16). What about us?
(2) Our attitude to the Lord's Day should be governed by our attitude to the Lord.
Jesus' attitude to His Father was described as "holy" and "wholly" - living holy to God and belonging wholly to God. These principles ought to govern our obedience.
(3) Our attitude to the Lord's Day should not mean a devaluing of other days.
We are bound to obey Christ seven days a week. When Christ said, "I am working", He meant a "seven-day week" job. How we spend Saturday evening may say more about our Christian obedience than how we spend Sunday morning.
(4) Our attitude to the Lord's Day should be governed by Gospel obedience - not legal obedience.
The Pharisee had plenty of obedience. It was all legal obedience. By their words and actions, they made people feel inferior - "Keep on trying, but you'll never be as good as us." This leads to despair. It's bad news - not good news. Jesus was very different from the Pharisees. He brought good news to people. He showed them, love, forgiveness and joy.
(5) Our attitude to the Lord's Day should be one of joy.
When we think of the resurrection of Christ by which we have been brought into the rest of faith, in which we rest seven days a week ( see Hebrews 4:1-10, especially verses 9-10), we can only rejoice.