Jesus' Invitation to You

This past Sunday we reflected on the Third Commandment:  "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy."

At the outset of Christianity, the first disciples set aside Sunday to gather together for early Christian worship. This was a departure from the Old Testament practice of ending the week with the Sabbath on Saturday. Sunday stood out to these New Testament believers for two primary reasons. First and foremost, Jesus rose from the dead early on a Sunday morning, the first day of the week. Second, the Holy Spirit whom Jesus had promised was sent upon the first disciples on another Sunday, fifty days later at the Jewish festival of Pentecost. Stemming from these two world-changing Sundays, the first Christians began keeping the Sabbath on Sunday.

They also kept the Sabbath differently than God's Old Testament people or their Jewish contemporaries. More than ceasing to work and taking a day to rest physically, New Testament Christians kept the Sabbath as a Christ-centered day. They gathered together in their homes and in the temple courts in Jerusalem and gave thanks for Jesus' life and ministry among them and for His death and resurrection for their salvation. They recalled and discussed Jesus' words, along with His ancient words through the pens of the Old Testament prophets. They sang the songs of Jesus as recorded in the Bible's songbook - the Psalms. They received Jesus' body and blood for their forgiveness in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. In short, they sought to keep the Sabbath by gathering in remembrance of Jesus, trusting His promise that He was with them as they gathered in His name, and by receiving the gifts of His Word and Sacrament.

So how can you keep the Sabbath as a New Testament Christian 2,000 years after those first Christians?  In much the same way as they did - receive God's Word! Hear the voice of your Shepherd & Savior Jesus. As Martin Luther put it in his Small Catechism, God wants us to gladly hear and learn God's Word, both in public reading and preaching of the Word and in our personal and family devotional reading of Scripture. In that sense, keeping the Sabbath is not just something to be done on a set day of the week (such as Saturday or Sunday) but everyday! We keep the Sabbath "holy" when God's Holy Word is on our hearts and minds and lips.

Along with Sunday, the day most Christians have set aside for public worship services, every day, is a day to rest in God's Word and promises - to rest in Jesus Himself and His amazing grace and in the salvation He has already accomplished for you and which is yours as a baptized believer in Him.

Both every day and every Lord's Day (Sunday), Jesus invites us, as He does in the words of Matthew 11, "Come to Me ... and you will find rest for your souls."