“And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.’ ” Mark 2:27-28
I remember hearing about a pastor that was providing relationship counseling to an unmarried couple. Though they professed to be deeply in love, nevertheless, they were struggling with their relationship on several fronts. During one counseling session the pastor asked them if they were sexually active. They said that, yes, they were but that they were praying that the Lord would reveal to them what they ought to do about it. This caused the pastor to wonder what kind of signal they were looking for since the Bible is very clear about not having sexual relations outside of marriage.
At this point, some of you may be wondering what this story has to do with our focus text. And it’s this. Both the Sabbath and sexuality are gifts from God. But we can only enjoy the full blessing of these gifts if we are obedient to his instructions about how to celebrate them. And here we run into the problem we sinners frequently have. We’re continually attaching our own ideas to the instructions God’s given and then, like Cain standing next to an altar piled with fruits and vegetables, we’re disappointed that we’re not receiving the blessings we thought we’d receive.
When it comes to the Sabbath scripture specifically warns us about the danger of doing our own thing. Isaiah 58:13-14 says this, “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day … and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord.”
The scriptures are very clear the blessing of the Sabbath comes when we seek for it according to the instructions God’s given. In Mark 2 the problem wasn’t that the people weren’t trying to obedient. The problem was that they were trying to be obedient according to their own rules and ideas of what Sabbath observance was all about. But friends, human ideas, tainted by our sinful natures as they will be, can’t be trusted to know the path of blessing. The only reliable path we can follow is the one Christ has charted for us. And that is one of faith obedience to the Father word, neither adding to it nor taking away.