Lord of the Sabbath

Matthew 12:8

“For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

There is a lot of controversy over whether it is appropriate or required to rest on the Sabbath day.  Indeed, there is even controversy over what day should celebrated as the Sabbath as most Christians celebrate on the first day of the week in honor of Christ’s resurrection instead of the seventh day as the Jews were instructed.

Jesus was criticized for healing on the Sabbath and for not following the man made rules that the Jewish leaders had constructed – well meaning but often foolish laws.

Jesus did not break any law that God had given to man.  He also doesn’t supersede any law – that is to decide that He is above it and it doesn’t apply to Him.  Instead He offers clarification to the legalistic ways that the law had been incorrectly interpreted.

The Sabbath was intended for man to rest.  The example given was that God rested on the seventh day, so should man.  God obviously did not need to rest because He was tired but He did so as an example for us.

Jesus is the Lord of rest.  We jam too many activities into our day and are exhausted at night.  Then we reschedule more into the next day because we missed something the day before.  Instead of a day of rest, Sunday has become a day to catch up on things we didn’t have time to do the rest of the week.

Jesus is the Lord of rest.  Take a day off to follow that example.  It will be of benefit both physically and spiritually.

Christ, Divinely Worshipped

Hebrews 1:5-6

For to which of the angels did God ever say,
“You are my Son;
today I have become your Father”? Or again,
“I will be his Father,
and he will be my Son”? And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,
“Let all God’s angels worship him.”

Jesus’ lowly birth in a stable surrounded by animals is a great human interest story.  If it occurred today it would at least catch the interest of the local news.  Politicians may chime in about the poor conditions in which the child was born in.  Others may denounce the capitalist innkeeper who was unwilling to find a better place to stay for a pregnant woman to spend the night.

The birth of Jesus is not merely human drama however.  While we hear the story year after year and see it reenacted in Christmas plays, the divine drama is every bit as important as the human side of the story.

Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14.  He is Immanuel, God with us.  Jesus’ birth is not just the birth of another great man in history.  He is not just another in a long line of kings or descendants of David.

Jesus is worshipped as an infant.  Shepherds came from their fields to bow down to the King of Kings in baby form.  Magi traveled from far off to present great gifts to a king that they knew was more special than any other.

Perhaps greatest of all is that the angels themselves worship Jesus as a baby.  Jesus didn’t come into the world for the angels and yet they too must worship Him.  We too should follow the example of so many before us and worship Jesus.

Christ the Creator

Colossians 1:16-17

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

We don’t often think of Christ before He is introduced to the world as a little baby.  However, He is God and has been around eternally.  Jesus was there at creation and had an active part in the process.

We often struggle to understand the trinity with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit all being one God but separate beings.  This isn’t something that we will fully be able to grasp here on earth.

The three persons of the trinity have separate functions.  Jesus has a very different mission than that of the Father and the Holy Spirit.  But there are other times, like during creation, that we see all three present and doing the same thing together.

Even if our understanding is limited, we should remember that Jesus is God.  Even as we celebrate Christ’s humanity at Christmas, we should remember this.  It puts things in even greater perspective for us.  The baby in a manger is not just the savior of the world; He is the creator of that same world that He arrived in as a baby!

Blood of Christ

Hebrews 9:12

He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.

The idea of animal sacrifice seems ancient and even barbaric to most people today.  The idea of killing something to appease a god is something that we think of happening in pagan tribes thousands of years ago.  But blood is central to Christianity as well.

Blood sacrifice was instituted at the very first sin.  When Adam and Eve sinned and realized that they were naked, God sacrificed an animal and covered their nakedness with the skin.  The leaves that they hid behind were not adequate.

The problem with animal sacrifice was that it was only a covering.  The sins were covered over but not actually erased.  Old Testament saints were still saved by virtue of following the sacrifices because of their faith however.

Every sacrifice that was made – year after year – pointed toward Jesus.  Undoubtedly, the Israelites didn’t understand all of it but they did what God asked regardless.

On the Day of Atonement, once a year, the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place and make a sacrifice for the nation of Israel.  When Jesus died and His blood was shed, the curtain that separated the Most Holy Place was torn in two.  Jesus’ blood literally tore down the barrier between God and man.

Jesus was the once for all sacrifice.  No more sacrifice is needed now.  Just like the Old Testament saints, we are saved by faith in Jesus.  We have the benefit of a much better understanding than they did however.

Mercy of Christ

Hebrews 2:17

For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

This passage in Hebrews explains one of the reasons that Jesus became a man.  There is an old adage that says, “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.”  In other words, don’t jump to conclusions about a person until you know what they’ve been through.

Jesus walked among us as a man and experienced life here on earth.  No one can ever argue with God by saying, “You don’t know what it’s like.”  Jesus was here and he does know what it is like.

Jesus was tempted in every way that we are tempted.  He experienced greater rejection than we will experience.  He was persecuted to the point of death.  Jesus tasted the worst that life had to offer so He knows how we feel when we cry out to Him.

Because of these things Jesus is merciful to us.  He lived the sinless life that we’re incapable of living but He knows firsthand how hard it is to live it.  He does not want to punish us for falling short but to give us mercy instead.

The job of the high priest was to present the sacrifice to God.  Because Jesus was a merciful and faithful high priest He offered up Himself as a sacrifice for us.  Jesus walked in our shoes and knew that we needed mercy.  He gave us that on the cross.