by Andrew Kerr
Over the past two weeks, given Christ’s statement in the Gospels, I’ve been mulling over the question of how the Sabbath of Creation connects with Christ as Son.
The Sabbath was Made by The Son.
We are plainly told in Genesis that, having concluded Creation work, God set Day Seven apart. At this particular junction in divine revelation, Moses is not concerned with the Persons of the Godhead: if explicit mention of the Father, Son and Spirit of Yahweh is held back to the Baptism of Christ, we know from New Testament references that, as The Pre-Incarnate Logos, God the Son was The Agent of Creation who also gave the Sabbath Ordinance.
In all of the external works of God (or opera ad extra), all Three Glorious Persons of the Godhead are active: we must clearly state that if the Father ordained the Sabbath by the Spirit, the Seventh Day of Rest, equally, is the Son’s gift to mankind. Or, at risk of stating the matter in an anachronistic fashion, the origin of the Sabbath can be traced to the now-Enfleshed Word. His sanctifying that day by setting it apart as special could have been intensive (most sacred), factitive (made sacred), or declarative (marked sacred), or perhaps all three. Whatever the precise nuance involved in demarcation of the Seventh Day, let us be very clear that having made that Day, the Sabbath belongs to Him. It is not an exaggeration to call it the Sabbath of the Son.
The Sabbath was Made for The Son.
Not only was rest given for the enjoyment of Lord Adam of Eden: the ultimate beneficial reason for the giving of the Sabbath to the human race, was so that when the Word took Flesh, Jesus, Himself, might sanctify this day of rest. From before the world was made, the Logos fully intended to use the Sabbath Day to bring blessing to the world. Not only did Christ hallow this day of worship growing up, but for 3 three years of Sabbaths, this time was set apart, from the rest of His hectic weeks, for some of His most notable words and works of public ministry among Jews.
Often, if not always, on the weekly worship day, He was at the front of synagogues reading and expounding Old Testament Scriptures – what wonderful sermons, doctrines, explications and applications came from the chair from which Christ taught. With perfect, pure, power and penetration, and majestic method and manner, words of grace issued from Jesus’ mouth – so much light and heat, giving correction, clarity and cure, were present in the sermons that the Saviour delivered that Isaiah, Spurgeon or Lloyd-Jones would want to hide away for shame and seek a live coal to atone. Let us not forget those acts of healing balm, such as restoration of a limb, with expulsion of a demon, to signal that this day was intended to benefit whole men. His was a soul that could not let the solemn occasion pass without lifting creatures out from their sinful, satanic, pits to convert their death to life and swallow up their gloom with joy. This, of course, should come as no surprise – from the very start, He attached not only physical but especially spiritual divine benedictions to this day: this day was intended, from the foundation of our planet, for all men everywhere as a day for satisfaction of creatures, salvation of sinners, and sanctification of saints.
The Sabbath was Made under the Son.
There is little doubt that when the Nazarene said that the Sabbath was made for man, he certainly intended not a legal reference to Moses but both a reference to Creation and the intended human benefit. Though each day is a gift in which we are called to glorify God, for all nations, from the start, The Son divided all time up.
For this reason, we must not forget, in the frantic pace of life, the sacred-secular week with a rhythmic balance of worship to work (though at first, this order was reversed). We can also, perhaps, reflect on the lordship of Eden that was given to Adam – as prophet, priest and king, he was given a charge and trust, to sanctify that day and enjoy the blessings The Logos attached – dominion and delight of this Holy Day is only fully restored to male and female, slave and free, young and old, in the Person of the Son of Man.
The Sabbath was Made to the Son.
So, it seems that Jesus Christ is Lord of the Sabbath, both as God and Man, both as Creator and Redeemer, for He is the Only Mediator. That gives the King of Kings the right not only to teach how the Sabbath ought to be kept, but also to re-set the weekly clock so that the Church has a Day set apart for public assembly. It also surely means that the Creation Sabbath was always and is ever only the Lord’s Day – what belonged to Him as God is now His also as God made Man. It was the Lord’s Day in Genesis and that’s has not changed by the time we get to the Lord’s Day in Revelation – the only major difference is that, instead of Day Seven which left Jesus in the Tomb, the New Creation begins on First Day of the Week which recalls His Rising Up (the very best day to meet could not be left in any doubt).
Pastor of Ridgefield Park NJ (NYC Metro Area)