Luke 6v1-11

Jesus Christ says,  The Son of Man - a title he used for himself - is Lord of the Sabbath 

Which was another way of Jesus Christ saying ‘I am the Lord of REST’ 

In another place Jesus says, “Come to me all you that labour and are heavy laden and i will give you REST’ 


Rest is our theme here. And it’s an important subject. 

Perhaps you’re like many in our city and you’re in desperate need of a rest - a holiday, a decent day off, a good night’s sleep!

But of course to Rest, to really Rest is not as simple as that because there is within us a Restlessness that often means that we cannot rest. The holiday becomes an added stress, we get to bed early but lie awake… A hunger for rest that causes us to work more not less. Because we’re trying to get something, prove something, achieve something.. Something that will give rest to our souls.. 

Jesus Christ is the Lord of Rest but we cannot rest because we’re so busy looking for rest for ourselves..


Let’s have a look at the passage and see what help it brings..


The first thing we learn is that it is the Sabbath day 

6v1 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the cornfields …Jesus goes for a walk with his disciples through the cornfields on the sabbath. 

The sabbath as you know was Saturday -the Jewish day of rest. Enshrined in God’s law - in particular the 10 Cs - was God’s instruction that ‘6 days you should Labour and do all your work but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God, on it you shall not do any work.” A day of rest. A day particularly for the Jews to remember how God rescued them from slavery in Egypt and brought them into the promised land. Giving them rest from all their enemies. Rescue and Rest. 

But the origins of the Sabbath are much older. In the account of the Creation of the world in genesis 1 God works for 6 days creating the world out of nothing and then satisifed that is was all good, on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Not because God gets tired and needs a rest. God actually never ceases the work of sustaining life. But God teaches in the Creation that the goal of life is Rest. And promises that the world will not end in environmental or military tragedy because HE is the RESCUING God. At the end of all our labours there will be rest. 

So every week the Jews were reminded that toil and pain and labour will give way to perfect rest. 


{Incidentally. there’s a question about whether the Sabbath law applies to the Christian church. Some say, yes it still does it’s one of the 10 commandments! Others say the principle of rest now on the Lord’s Day - Sunday, the first day of the week - the day Jesus was raised from the dead - that’s what applies but the sabbath saturday has been fulfilled in Jesus. 

It’s still good to observe sabbath rest. God still says take a day off.  Because Sabbath is a beautiful thing. A reminder. It preached that God would remake the world – God would bring rest. The question remains how do we find the rest that enables us to rest?]


Because the people of Jesus’ day are just like us. 

They had turned Sabbath on its head. Sabbath was supposed to be about God showing them HIS goodness. They made it an occasion to show God their goodness.. 


God is the one who gives rest but we’re so busy trying to get rest for ourselves! 


Over the years the Jewish people had developed more and more things they refused to do on Saturday.  They weren’t in the bible, they were extra rules they made up to show God and the world just how obedient they were. And over a thousand years it got seriously twisted.  How twisted?  Just have a read of Verse 1: One Sabbath Jesus was going through the cornfields, and his disciples began to pick some ears of corn, rub them in their hands and eat the grain. 2 Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

So here are the Pharisees – these are the arch-religious do-gooders.  And they’re upset. Not because Jesus’ disciples were picking grain in someone else’s field.  That wasn’t unlawful.  In fact there’s a verse in Deuteronomy 23 that says, if you’re walking through a field, you can help yourself along the way.  (Use that one when you’re grazing on some grapes in sainsbury’s) But what was unlawful, according to the Pharisees, was doing it on the Sabbath.You see, according to these moral policemen.  This is work.  plucking is reaping, rubbing is threshing, throwing away the husks is winnowing!  It’s work!  Now the bible never outlaws this.  It never even comes close to it.  But the Pharisees are adamant:  Jesus, you are presiding over Sabbath-breaking, how could you!?

Jesus responds in a breathtaking way v3 

“Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?  4 He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”


Jesus cites an Incident in the OT. In 1 Samuel chapter 21.

where King David had been anointed by God as the true King of Israel.  But, King Saul was the one who sat on the throne and who everyone looked to.  Now Saul and his men were hunting down and trying to kill David.  So David is on the run along with his companions. They are hungry and they go to the temple. And the priest - recognising David’s kingly and priestly status gives David the holy bread that only priests are meant to eat. 

Jesus is drawing powerful parallels and making strong claims.. He is like David. The true King of the world, but not acknowledged to be so.  He’s travelling with his companions. And the Pharisees?  Who are the Pharisees here?  They are the enemy, they are like Saul’s men, hunting down God’s True Anointed King! This is a devastating Scripture for Jesus to wheel out.  And while they’re reeling from it, Jesus delivers the death blow.  Verse 5: Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” This is awesome and provocative. This Sabbath Law that the Pharisees honour. Jesus says I am the law. Jesus says I don’t bow to the law, the law bows to me.  Because I am LORD of the Sabbath. And if you only knew it .. I am the Lord of REST. I could give you rest..


The Pharisees it’s seem have no answer to this.  They are utterly silenced by Jesus.  And they have to regroup for another assault on Him.  So they wait for another Sabbath (because they’re obsessed).


So, verse 6:

6 On another Sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shrivelled.  7 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath.


So here are the Pharisees again and you might think there’s some hope for them because they’re in church.  But they’re not there to worship God.  They’re not there to listen to His word.  They’re certainly not there to help this disabled man.  Why are they there?  To accuse Jesus!  To catch out and accuse the LORD of the Sabbath. They seem sure Jesus will heal a man.  I wonder if even the disciples had that much faith.  They seemed to know that Jesus would heal – they’d obviously seen His powers many times before.  But instead of saying “Wow, Jesus calls Himself LORD and acts with all the power of the LORD, maybe He IS the LORD.”  Instead of concluding, “Hmm, I wonder if Jesus is God!?” All they can think of is their precious rules.  And whether the LORD might break them. So there they are in the synagogue, just waiting to be infuriated by a miracle.  

And of course you have to ask, How restful do they find their Sabbaths really!!?  With their binoculars and clipboards, and their constant frowning – isn’t that the most exhausting work actually?  It seems to me that all this moral policing is incredibly taxing, and yet they do it all in the name of Sabbath rest. Because they’re trying to show to God how good they are..


Think about yourself for a moment.. 


Maybe there are real temptations for you in this moralistic direction. Rules and rule keeping is tempting, because rules keep score.  And they show everyone that I’m better, and you’re worse.  They help you justify yourself.

But if you buy into rules they will end up ruling you.  You will find your identity in keeping them and suddenly they will become more important than anything.

Think of these Pharisees in that synagogue.  They were surrounded by such important things that should have had priority.  They were in a house of worship, they were listening to the word of God, there was a real hurting person in their midst and there was God in the flesh about to unleash the powers of heaven.  But they completely failed to respond to the needs around them appropriately.  All they could see was their little rules, and horror of horrors, they were about to be broken. 


Here’s the danger of trying to find rest for yourself. To prove yourself. You’re restless.. you think i’m not right but i can be if keep the rules. I can then say It’s finished. i can rest happy. But rules become exhausting rulers and you get closed down to the real needs around you.. Jesus stands opposed to that kind of living..


But it’s not just religious moralism that’s a problem. There’s a secular version of this self salvation; this self pursuit of rest. Through work, or being the perfect partner or friend. If i succeed in my work or if i give my kids the perfect holiday then i will find rest. 

Rocky - the only good Rocky film “if I can go that distance, ya see, and that bell rings, ya know, and I'm still standin', I'm gonna know for the first time in my life, ya see, that I weren't just another bum from the neighborhood.” Then i’ll know.. Working to justify yourself. To prove yourself. Working for your rest. ButIt’s exhausting, you can never stop and you never achieve it which is why Rocky 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 are progressively such bad films..

One person puts it this way: ‘the attempt to justify our existence and prove our acceptability through achievement and activity …leads to an unending cycle of grief- unending because no achievement or amount of activity can fully satisfy our need for acceptance. We may talk about wanting to get off the bullet train of Western society, but the reality is that we are afraid – afraid of being a nobody.’ 


There is another way. 

The son of man is Lord of the Sabbath. Lord of Rest 

8 But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shrivelled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there. 9 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”10 He looked round at them all, (how long did that take - and no answer) and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 


Here is the LORD of the Sabbath in action.  Here’s what Sabbath is all about. RESCUE AND REST. RESTORATONThat day it was a hand.  One day it’ll be all creation.  COMPLETELY RESTORED.  Here in the synagogue is a token of His cosmic powers of restoration.  A miracle.  A completely appropriate Sabbath miracle.  Surely this miracle will change the hearts and minds of the Pharisees.  Wouldn’t you think? I’m always hearing people say, “I’d believe if only I saw a miracle.”Really?Let’s see how they reacted in verse 11:

But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.

How chilling.  

And by the end of the gospel of Luke these Pharisees get their way.  Jesus dies not at the hands of an angry pagan rabble. He dies at the hands of moralists.  

Jesus comes to bring life and peace and restoration to the world, and what does He get for His efforts?  Death.

But here’s the irony.  Through that death He would bring life.  Through His work on the cross, He would bring rest.


On the cross a great exchange takes place. An extraordinary swap. Jesus takes our unrighteousness and gives us his righteousness in return.. 

All our restless sense of not being right - which leads us to labour and work to try and pay for something. Jesus says you can never pay. i take it from you. I will pay with my death. From the cross Jesus cries out ‘It is finished’ 

And all his righteousness. That sense of being right, being acceptable, being loved that we long for - that deep rest - is given to you. It is finished. Be at peace.. 


Baptism is a sign of that gift - that Jesus in love joins his life to ours in such a way that he takes our unrightness and deals with it and gives us his rightness in return. And as Noah and we continue to walk with Jesus trusting in him. That rest deepens in our lives. Until RESTORATION finally comes


Take a day off says God. But how? What does it mean to really rest. To use our day of rest to bring life to others, to rejoice in his rescue. How to we even find rest in our work? Jesus says ‘I am Lord of the Sabbath …come to me all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.’ Jesus says you know you don’t have to prove that you are somebody special. God your Creator has given you life, and when you were lost in your rejection of him, He gave up his only Son to death on a cross for you, for your forgiveness. And now you stand - a child of God clothed in his righteousness. That is the degree to which you are loved, accepted, approved of. So Come to me and rest. Rest Rest.