For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.
Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel.”
For the sincere and religious people of Jesus’ day, almost everything you did with your faith happened on the Sabbath. Sure, there were foods to avoid and things you shouldn’t touch the rest of the week, but the Sabbath was different. Not only was it the 4th of the 10 commandments, but after the Babylonian exile, the leaders wrote a book about keeping the Sabbath. It was 24 chapters long and detailed the 39 types of work that were forbidden on the Sabbath.
They had thousands of laws wrapped around “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy” in order to make sure they always remembered it and kept it really stinking holy.
So Jesus comes along and does some very radical things. For one, He is working miracles on the Sabbath. If you are a miracle worker, and you work a miracle on the Sabbath, you violate one of those 39 types of work! But then to say you’re the Son of God and that God Himself, who rested on the 7th day, is still working!? That’s blasphemy.
One of the things that Jesus does over and over again throughout the Gospels (and today too) is to lead people out of their way of thinking and into His own. You could set up a system in which it would be pretty hard to break any of the Sabbath laws but still not have faith in God. You could easily not take more than 3,000 steps from your property on a Sabbath and still march right into Hell on Monday.
Jesus was showing them that worship wasn’t about doing or not doing. Worship is about believing what Jesus said. If you believe what He said, then you might keep working to do good…even on the Sabbath…but you’re going to do it because you see Christ doing that work in you. Even following Jesus isn’t about a law of do and don’t. We watch, by faith, to see what The Father is doing.
God is at work in every one of our stories. He has made us into new creations to be led by His Spirit. In this freedom from law, we get to see what God the Father is doing, where He is working, and join in. That is better than going to church every Sunday. In this way, worship becomes a lifestyle, and sometimes, it happens on a Sunday.
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