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Sabbath Reflection #3: Reclaiming the Sabbath

Scripture Reading: Matthew 12:1-12
Take some time to read Matthew 12:1-12 and make a note of what stands out to you. What does the reading tell you about God the Father, Son and Spirit? What does it tell you about people and/or yourself?

When it comes to considering Jesus and the Sabbath, Matthew 12:1-12 is a common go-to passage. In this passage it is the Sabbath day and we find Jesus and His disciples picking grain before Jesus then heals a man with a withered hand. The Jewish leaders challenge this behaviour, arguing that it is unlawful to do such things on the Sabbath as they are classified as ‘work’.

So, is Jesus disobeying the laws of the Sabbath? No. And Jesus responds to the criticism by challenging the legalism and restrictive regulations that the religious leaders of the day have attached to the Sabbath.

Interestingly, Numbers 28:9-10 shows that the priests in the temple are actually commanded to work by preparing sacrifices on the Sabbath. To use a Jewish ‘how much more’ argument, if it is acceptable for the guardians of the temple to work on the Sabbath, then how much more acceptable is it for one who is greater than the temple to work on the Sabbath? And we know from John 2 that Jesus is not only greater than the temple – He is the one temple.

While such an argument might have justified Jesus’s behaviour on the Sabbath to the Jewish leaders, many of them would have considered His claim to be the ‘one temple’ as presumptuous and preposterous. Instead Jesus uses a slightly different ‘how much more’ argument and suggests that some things (feeding the hungry, healing the sick) must take precedence over a restrictive and burdensome Sabbath observance (see verses 11-12).

Ultimately, Jesus reclaims the Sabbath as a time of rest and blessing. He shows us that the Sabbath is a time for showing mercy and doing good, not a time to be governed by narrow definitions or arguments about what is and what is not considered to be ‘work’. It is a time we set aside to focus on the Lord and His blessings of creation and salvation, and such a time should not be burdensome to those who love and honour Him.

Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfil it (Matthew 5:17). And by fulfilling the law, His sacrifice on the cross brought us the blessing of forgiveness and reconciliation with God the Father. We may now enter into the eternal rest that is found in His love, grace and mercy.

Are there any rules or conventions that we follow that restrict us from embracing the gift of the Sabbath? Do we self-sabotage when it comes to rest, and build barriers or excuses or habits that don’t allow us to rest and enter into the presence of God?

Pray that Jesus will help you to claim (or reclaim) the Sabbath as a time of rest and blessing.

– Kirrily

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Additional Note
What We Believe

We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God and inerrant in the original writings. We believe that there is one God, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.

We believe that the lost and sinful man must be saved, and that man’s only hope of redemption is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We believe in and practice the holy ordinance of water baptism, which signifies the believer’s death, burial, and resurrection into new life with Christ Jesus, and the regular celebration of Holy Communion as commanded by our Lord.

We believe in the present ministry and baptism of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a Godly life. We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the unsaved; those that are saved into the resurrection of life and those that are unsaved into the resurrection of damnation.

We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our History

In recognition of the tremendous growth forecast for the Plenty Valley, Bishop Stephen Hale set up a Taskforce in 2007 to investigate the possibility of establishing a new Anglican community in the area. With representation from local churches and Ivanhoe Grammar School, this Taskforce developed a plan that included the need for a point person to further the work. In response to this, two years ago St John’s Diamond Creek took a great step of faith by employing a staff member to not only serve its own congregation but to focus on establishing a new parish for Mernda. Craig spent his first year getting to know the area, building relationships and discerning what God was already up to in His mission of reaching residents and retailers with His love. Throughout the following year a core team began to form around a vision that arose again and again through prayer, of a red gum taking root in the heart of Mernda and growing while the roots reached out to every corner of the community. This vision of being organic church integrally connected to local community found a means of expression through the “Sheffield Model”, which was first developed by St Thomas’s in Sheffield (UK) nearly 15 years ago.

With a focus on “missional communities” the Sheffield model emphasises the need for Christians to meet with people in their own world rather than expecting them to enter ours. After spending time with the staff of St Thomas’s, Craig and the team began work on adapting the model for our own local context and subsequently launched two playgroups in the second half of 2010. A missional community has also begun forming around crafts and the creative arts which runs a stall at the Laurimar market to raise money for various causes. Three preview services were also held as God continued to draw people into the Plentylife community.

We now launch with a much clearer vision of who God wants us to be, a five-strong leadership team with responsibilities for missional communities, youth, families, and administration, and leadership for three missional communities focused on families, crafts and the creative arts and the outdoor life. And it’s true that we wouldn’t be at this point today if it wasn’t for the generous support of the Diocese, St Johns and other supporting churches! So now together we look forward to what else God might have in store for us according to His grace.