Preparing for Worship: Jesus and Sabbath

Preparing for Worship: Jesus and Sabbath

John Haralson   •   February 5, 2016

“I desire mercy, and not sacrifice”

Matthew 12:7

Dear Friends,

I have a friend who is a bit older than I am and has been a Christian for about a decade longer. He uses a wonderful word to describe Christians who get hung up on constantly policing other peoples’ theology and ethics.


I like the word for many reasons, not least of which is that it keeps me in the middle school potty humor genre, which is a great place for laughs. But, more seriously, I think it does a great job of describing all of us when we become preoccupied with making sure other people know when they’re wrong. At those times, there is an inner tension that builds up inside of us and makes us become more and more tightly wound.

According to Jesus, this finger pointing gene we all have is not a good one. In fact, he says that to live consistently in this way means we are actually missing himeven when, and perhaps especially when, we are trying to impose God’s laws on others.

You see, when we insist on policing others, we are acting on a deeply held belief that God is primarily an enforcer of his laws. We think the Lord is lurking around every corner making sure that nobody is coloring outside of the lines.

But Jesus tells us otherwise. He indicates that he is first and foremost a liberator and a gift giver. He is one who deeply desires and delights to show us mercy. He loves being gracious to us.

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus does this by showing how the Sabbath actually points to him and finds its fulfillment in him. When properly understood, the Sabbath was supposed to be a great gift. It was to be a time where we could cease from our labors and be set free from that which oppresses us. Jesus boldly proclaims that he came to embody and fulfill the Sabbath, and he now invites all of us to find our rest in him.

In other words, God delights to show us mercy. That is really who he is.


This week: Jesus and the Sabbath, Matthew 11:25-12:8

Liturgy is here.

I hope to worship with you on Sunday.

Warmly in Christ,


P.S. Congregational meeting this Sunday during Christian Formation Hour. AshWednesday service on Wednesday night @ 7pm. Emerald Hymns album release show on Thursday night @ 6:30pm.