Then [Jesus] said to them, “The Sabbath was made to benefit people, and not people to benefit the Sabbath. And I, the Son of Man, am master even of the Sabbath!” - Mark 2:27-28

“Thank God it’s Friday” is a common sentiment in the workplace. Not that Fridays are any different from other days; the sun rises and sets as usual! It’s just that on Friday the work week ends and the weekend begins.

It was not always like this. The Scriptures say, “Six days a week are set apart for your daily duties and regular work but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God” (Exod. 20:9-10). This is one of the Ten Commandments, and the Jewish people understood the reasoning behind it: God created the world in six days but rested on the seventh, and man should do the same. Accordingly, they were forbidden to do any work on the Sabbath, and they defined work by listing thirty-nine prohibited actions. The penalty for breaking this law was death!

One Sabbath day, while Jesus and his disciples were busy with the work of the kingdom, the disciples picked some wheat and ate it as they traveled. This was technically “reaping”—one of the thirty-nine activities prohibited by the rabbis. So he was in contravention of basic Jewish law, and his opponents challenged him. He replied that the Sabbath was made for the benefit of man and, therefore, it was appropriate for his hungry disciples to be fed. Then, to the anger of his opponents, he said, “And I, the Son of Man, am master even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28).

Christians now celebrate a “sabbath,” a day of rest and worship, on the first day of the week, rather than on the last day, in commemoration of Christ’s resurrection (see Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:1-9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2). The first day of the week was called “the Lord’s Day” in New Testament times (see Rev. 1:10). But what matters to secular people is not a day of rest in honor of the Creator who rested from his work, but a weekend away from work and freedom to do whatever they wish.

Jesus said that he is master even of the Sabbath, and the Sabbath is made for man’s well-being. If Jesus’ words are to be applied for modern people, surely they mean that our times of rest from work should be lived in conscious recognition not only of the Creator who rested, but also of his Son who rose again. Such recognition would lead to worship and service as a prime weekend activity. This would not only serve to renew weary people after the struggles of the previous week, but also would refresh them with spiritual energy with which to face the new week. When that happens, the refreshed and renewed can’t wait to get back to work. They may even be heard saying as they go, “Thank God it’s Monday”!

For Further Study: Mark 2, Mark 3

Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

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