Mark 2 - Steve Wiggins Daily Devotional
“Then He told them, ‘The Shabbat was made because of man and not man because of the Shabbat. Therefore, the Son of Man is L-rd even of the Shabbat.’” Mark 2:27-28
One of the main arguments that religious Jews have against “Christians”, is that they profane the Sabbath. Not only do most “Christians” recognize a different day of worship; in the Jewish mind, “Christians” have lost touch with the Hebraic understanding of “how” to observe Shabbat. Sadly, most Jewish people have no idea that there are congregations of Messianic believers (like Shuvah Yisrael) who meet every Shabbat. So, most of the Jewish community only has the “Church” as their example.
Perhaps, you have heard the old Jewish saying, “Ask 5 rabbis, get 10 opinions.” Not all Rabbis agree on how to observe the Sabbath, either! There are Orthodox, Ultra Orthodox, Conservative, Reformed Jews…and various sects of each. In the more religious homes, Shabbat controls your life. On the Sabbath, everything must be shut off. Refrigerators, elevators, clocks…nothing is allowed to “work” on Shabbat.
But among religious Jews, there are dissenting opinions. In the Talmud, Rabbi Yonatan ben-Yosef, (commenting on Exodus 31:12-17) said, “For it (Shabbat) is holy unto you. That is, it is committed into your hands, not you into its hands!”
A similar passage appears in the Mekhilta, Shabbata, and is attributed to Rabbi Shim’on Ben-Menaysa.
Obviously, the debate concerning man’s dominion over Shabbat v/s Shabbat’s dominion over man, is not exclusively a Jewish/Christian issue. It is contested even among Jews!
David Stern, in his “Jewish New Testament Commentary” makes this observation:
“It may be, therefore, that Yeshua’s comment in verse 28, that ‘the Son of Man is L-rd of Shabbat’, does not refer only to Himself but to EVERYONE, since the Hebrew words ‘ben-adam’ (literally son of man) can mean simply “’man, person,’ with no Messianic overtone: “people control Shabbat and not the other way around.”
Perhaps, this is why Paul exhorted the early Messianic community:
“Therefore, no one is to act as your judge in regard to food, or drink, or in respect to a festival, or a new moon, or a Sabbath day - things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Messiah.” Colossians 2:16-17
We are the stewards of Shabbat, not the other way around. It has been given to us for practical reasons, to force us to rest. It also points us to the eternal “rest” we will one day enter into, with Messiah Yeshua in Olam Ha-Ba.
~Steve Wiggins, Assistant Rabbi
Daily Devotional, Sunday, May 19, 2013