By Josh Cadwell
Whenever we obey commands from God, we normally view it as a gift back to God. Especially if the penalty of breaking that command is punishable by death. But what if obeying God’s commands did something else?
A New Way of Thinking
In the Old Testament God’s Word was clear: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” This command was so important to God that breaking it carried the ultimate penalty—death! The scribes among the Pharisees took this command seriously, so they created a “hedge” around it, creating a myriad of extra biblical rabbinic laws in order to prevent God’s people from breaking this command. By the time Jesus had begun his ministry on earth, these laws were so extensive that they created a heavy yoke for those wanting to be obedient to God’s command.
In Mark 2:27 Jesus gave us a new way of thinking: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Jesus was implying that when we follow the commands of God, they are for our own good. But how can this be? Many of us struggle with the idea of rest. If we are honest, even our days off work are filled with activities. We tend to flee the idea of Sabbath rest because subconsciously we worry that if we stop running from our thoughts, feelings, and activities, we will discover that we are not enough.
The Gift that Gives
The purpose of Sabbath rest in the Old Testament was to center the Israelites’ hearts and lives on the Creator. Although the New Testament does not command us to observe the Sabbath, there is great inner peace when we learn to center our lives on God. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
So when we rest in Christ, we can rest on the fact that he is our creator, he is our sustainer, he is the one who brings purpose to our lives. In Christ we discover that we are enough. Ultimately, when we observe the commands of God, the giver receives the gift.
Josh Cadwell is the Lead Minister at Victory Christian Church in Franklin, Indiana. He and his wife, Becky, have four children: Caleb, Mikayla, Kalli, and Carter.