Lord of the Sabbath

It can do us good from time to time to be sure that we think about the things that are being said in simple Scriptural statements. If you are like me, and you have been reading through the Bible year after year for a while, you will let phrases that ought to grab your attention slide past if you are not careful to pick them up.


I thought of this while reading through Luke 6. Jesus had allowed his disciples to pluck some heads of grain and eat them on a Sabbath day. The religious leaders protested, saying that Jesus was letting them break the Jewish law. But the Savior pointed out that the actions of the disciples were in keeping with other things we see in the Scriptures. The disciples were not violating the biblical commands, but were simply in conflict with the interpretations of the scholars of that day. They broke the leaders’ rules, not God’s.


Then Jesus makes a statement that, if we consider it, is stunning.


Luke 6:5 And he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”


Jesus was talking about himself and calling himself the Son of man. That is big enough for a whole post. But then Jesus claimed to be Lord of the Sabbath. That should make us tremble.


Consider, the Sabbath was a rule of God’s for his people set forth in the Ten Commandments. Moses carried those commandments to the people down from the mountain after they were carved in stone by the finger of God. These were a big deal. The Ten Commandments were God’s covenant terms with national Israel. They were God’s laws.


Jesus claims to be Lord of the Sabbath. That means that Jesus claims to be the Lord over one of the Ten Commandments. God gave those commandments. Thus, Jesus is claiming to be equal with God. But there is only one God. Thus, to claim to be equal with God is for Jesus to claim to be God. Here, in a simple sentence, Jesus let’s the Jews know that he is the very God who gave them these laws, who made the rules, and thus who is Lord over them.


Stop and think how it might sound if we heard someone claim to be the sovereign one over any other of the commands? If a person said they were fully in charge of the commandment of whom to worship, they would be claiming a position that only belongs to God. If a person claimed to be fully over, the Lord over, the command about murder, adultery, or stealing, you would know they are claiming to be fundamentally equal with the God who made that command. And in a similar way, we can see that Jesus, in one sentence that we often let slide by, declared himself to be the God of the Ten Commandments, the God of the Old Testament, the God who made and rules the universe.


This is not a violation of trinitarian theology. Jesus is God the Son. He is not God the Father. But the Father and the Son are equally God along with the Holy Spirit. It is a misconception to overly separate or to fail to distinguish these persons of the trinity. Jesus is as much the God of the Old Testament as is God the Father. God (not just the Father but the trinity) gave the Ten Commandments. Father, Son, and Spirit as one agreed on those laws as God gave those laws to Israel. And no person other than God could possibly have the right to declare himself or herself to be lord over that law.


Friends, let this simple reminder call you to praise the Lord Jesus, God the Son, God in flesh. He is Lord. We cannot please God without coming to God through the One he sent to be our Lord and Savior.