Read Mark 2:18-28
“And he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath’” (Mark 2:27 ESV).
It’s easy to get caught up in the letter of the law. I sometimes think that I need to do all the things, to abide by all the laws. After all, we have the Ten Commandments, not the Ten Suggestions. As a land surveyor, I am supposed to know all the rules and regulations of the state, and various counties and municipalities with regard to property. I love math which has set, concrete rules that can’t be violated without consequences. As such, I understand the importance of following the law in my spiritual life as well as my physical life. When I fail (inevitably), I mentally flagellate myself for not doing better. For not being better.
But am I missing the point?
The Pharisees did. By making sure they and everyone else followed the letter of the law, they forgot the spirit of the law.
Exodus 20:8-10a says, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.” (ESV)
The point of the Sabbath is to keep it holy. Not working is supposed to be an expression of that holiness. One can keep the Sabbath holy while still doing what’s necessary, just as the disciples did. They worked alongside Jesus, God in the flesh. What could be more holy than that?
The same goes for the rest of us. We must be ever mindful to avoid the trap of focusing on the letter of the law. It often ends up at the expense of both the intent and spirit of the law, and we lose sight of God’s grace.