Friday, 31 October 2008

Sabbatarian Gospel

No, this is not a heresy! Following on from the sermon last Sunday and BIble study this week (Luke 13:10-17), I've been thinking a lot about Sabbath and its impact on our grasp of the gospel. Several things have struck me afresh about Sabbath....

1. Sabbath is easily formulated as restriction and is often formulated by what you can't do. But Sabbath is about liberation (cf. Deut 5 where Sabbath celebrates the exodus) and freedom (Luke 13:12, 16). It is about being set free from what enslaved you. It is revolutionary. It challenges the oppressive status quo.

2. Sabbath is about the reign of the Lord Jesus. He is the Lord of the Sabbath and Sabbath is the experience of the kingdom: rest, liberation, healing and new life. It is about the healing of the withered hand and the mending of the crippled back, both physical and spiritual. It is holistic - the experience of new creation and the rest that comes from the presence of the Lord Jesus.

3. On the deepest level, as a colleague instructed me, Jesus is the Sabbath (Matt 11:28-30). To know Him and be with Him is to live in continual Sabbath. This is what we are looking forward to in the future (cf. Heb 4).

So we might put it like this: the promise of the gospel is the true Sabbath. Has the Sabbath influenced our theology (other than just thinking it's about a day of rest)? Do we preach a Sabbatarian gospel? Do we take the gospel to be promising us peace, rest and healing (understood with a right eschatology)? Do we take the gospel to be promising us liberation and restoration? Do we have a holistic, Sabbatarian message?