Deuteronomy 5:15 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.
Mark 2:27 And he said to them, "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath;
By know you all know that God made the Sabbath as a day of rest for all people. You also know that one of the chief things on the Sabbath is to remember how God has set us free from everything that would enslave us. To make certain that we know the rest is real, God gives us his example. Who has more things to do than God? Who has more people who depend on him than God? So that when God gives us His example, that the world will not end if He rests, so we too can have confidence that neither will it end if we rest. If we can trust in God for salvation, and forgiveness, certainly we can trust in God, that his grace and mercy will preserve us, even if we rest, as He has commanded.
We all confess the creed, but sometimes they are just words. Sometimes it can all be in our head, and not in our heart. Do we believe that Jesus "has redeemed me a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sin, from death, and the power of the devil, not with silver or gold, but with his holy precious blood and his innocent suffering and death, that I may be his own and live under him in his kingdom and serve him in everlasting righteousness innocence and blessedness." That is the slavery that was our Egypt? Did Jesus rise from the dead? Have we been set free?
But perhaps more to the point is, since we have been set free, then what? And the clue is given in our Gospel lesson, for there we see that the Sabbath is about eating and drinking, a feast which nourishes the soul. And what is this? It is the hearing of the Word of God, and it is the coming to the Lordís table, and it is the mutual encouragement of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and it is thanks and praise and worship to the one God in 3 persons who has done all these things for us.
In this world of ours, there are starving people, and compassion moves us to reach out to them with food. And if we can be so moved by physical hunger, what of spiritual hunger? You can see it at every corner, the new age, the occult, Spiritism, Satanism, Psychics, Astrology, Eastern religions, all the hungry souls looking for something to fill them and nourish them. They do not know of our Lord and Savior who invites us with the words, take eat, take drink - nor do the know of the bread of life, or of the living waters.
You see, God doesnít need to be worshipped, but we need to thank and praise him for all that he has done for us. God doesnít need guests at his banquet, but we need the food and the drink that nourish the soul and that well up for eternal life. God doesnít need to hear His Word, but we need to hear His Word, for these are the words of eternal life, where else can we go to hear such good things? And that is why we have the Sabbath.
And the chief obstacle to resting on the Sabbath is either selfishness, or guilt. Selfishness is easy to deal with, for all we have to do is ask what we would do without God? On good days we may think we can do just fine, but on bad days we know we need help. Guilt is probably the biggest obstacle, for it is usually the "ought toís" of this world that say, you cannot rest, there is too much to do, too much that should have already been done, youíve got to get caught up, then you can rest.
And the "ought toís" are nothing less that doubt that the forgiveness that is ours in the blood of Jesus is sufficient. We are taught repentance and forgiveness. We turn from sin, God removes the sin as far as the east is from the west, and it is not removed because we repented; it is removed because Jesus suffered and died to pay the price that was owed on account of sin. Repentance is not what we do to earn forgiveness, it is rather an emptying so that we have room to receive a gift which has already been given. And perhaps that is the chief thing of the Sabbath, the receiving of the grace of God in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. This is the thing which gladdens and feeds our hungry soul, it strengthens our faith, it focuses our resolve. And forgive in Jesus blood, the ought toís of life no longer have any hold of us. Why? Because we are safe in our saviors hand, and nothing can separate us from this great love, for if God is for us who can be against us? Who can lay any charge against Godís elect, it is God who justifies, who is he who condemns? And so we have a Sabbath rest.