Matthew 12:1-8

What does it mean to keep the Sabbath? In our fast-paced, almost-
vacation-time world, we rarely think about this. Modern Christians
look at the rabbinical Sabbath laws as archaic, as ancient rules that
don’t apply to us. Our Sundays are full of soccer games, yard work,
festivals downtown. Not to mention the slow creep of our 9-5 job,
trying to catch up on some work—or get a little ahead—before we
crash into Monday morning. The idea of the Sabbath as a holy day of
rest has long been forgotten.

Jesus ends his lecture to the Pharisees with the reminder that
God desires mercy, not sacrifice. His lesson to them, and to us, is to
not fill our Sabbath days with inflexible, meaningless, or burden-
some rules, but to remember that we are meant to live lives of mercy
and grace.

While not getting caught up in the hypocritical laws of the Pharisees, full of privilege and exceptions, let’s take a step back and focus on that original commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy” (Ex 20:8).

How can we spend one day a week in keeping with that commandment, not defining it as a day full of “thou shall nots,” but as a holy day that deepens our understanding of what it means to live a holy life? How can we pause in the middle of our rushing to remember what ultimately matters? What can we do to fill our Sundays with mercy and not sacrifice (v. 7) and truly keep that ancient commandment?


What one small thing could you do today to make this Sunday a day of mercy and grace?


God of grace and rest, help us to slow our frantic headlong rush through life and stop for one day to remember your gifts of abundance and love. Amen.

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