Disagreements about the Sabbath

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Disagreements about the Sabbath

The Sabbath :-

The Ten Commandments state that people should keep the Sabbath holy; the Sabbath has a different meaning for Christians and Jews.  For Jews, the Sabbath is a celebration of the seventh day of Creation, when God rested.  It begins at sundown on a Friday evening and ends at sundown on Saturday evening.  For Christians, the “Sabbath” or Holy Day, is Sunday, because it is the day Jesus rose from the dead.  The Commandment applies to both religions, even though the day is different.

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Disagreements about the Sabbath

How Disagreements about the Sabbath led to conflict :-

  • Jesus challenges the Jewish authorities to go back to the heart of the law, and not to be pre-occupied with human rules and regulations.  The Jewish authorities would not have liked this; “Jesus was angry as he looked around at them, but at the same time he felt sorry for them, because they were so stubborn and wrong”
  • Jesus shows that he has authority. He states that he is “Lord, even of the Sabbath” and showsthat he has authority to heal the man’s hand.  Jesus knew that the teachers of the law would be offended by his actions, but he wishes to make clear the authority that he had.  This is similar to the Healing of the Paralysed Man
  • Jesus challenges their reliance on the Laws of Moses; “As his disciples walked along with him, they began to pick the heads of wheat.”   People were forbidden to reap corn on the Sabbath according to a Jewish rule at the time.  Jesus cleverly referred to what David, the greatest Jewish king, permitted. 
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Disagreements about the Sabbath

Eating the consecrated food in the Temple, as the Pharisees knew, was a far worse religious offence than eating a few ears of corn in a field. Jesus told the Pharisees to get things in proportion. God gave the Jews a day of rest to help them, not to cause a problem for them.

  •  Jesus’ final statement was a challenge because not only did he link himself to God, he also told them that his authority was greater than the Sabbath rules; “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath”
  •  The Jewish authorities were looking out for conflict; “Some people were there who wanted to accuse Jesus of doing wrong; so they watched him closely to see whether he would cure the man on the Sabbath” Healing somebody who was not in a life or death situation was considered work and was forbidden on the Sabbath. Pharisees were so obsessed with laws – they are looking for problems.
  • Mark saw this event as the beginning of the plot to kill Jesus. The religious leaders began to join forces with political supporters of King Herod; “So the Pharisees left the synagogue and met at once with some members of Herod's party, and they made plans to kill Jesus”
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Disagreements about the Sabbath

Significance for Christians today :-

• It helps Christians today who work in the emergency services as Jesus teaches that it is more important to save lives than to observe the extreme Sabbath rules.

• As England is a multi-faith society, Christians today may find it difficult to keep to the Sabbath rules because other people may not want to follow the rules. They may feel discriminated against if they are asked to work on the Sabbath.

• There is an on-going campaign called Keep Sunday Special, which tries to argue that the Sabbath rules should be kept holy. However, people from other faiths may feel discriminated against because they do not want to conform to Christian rules which they may not believe in.

• We should learn to tolerate one another’s religious beliefs and practices in society within and between religions. We should try to understand the differences between religions and learn to accept them. This is called ecumenism, or inclusivisim e .g. ‘The Focolare’ movement brings people together from different religious backgrounds, recognising differences and focusing on the Golden Rule, a great central theme of similarity between religions.

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Disagreements about the Sabbath

Problems this passage raises :-

Multi-faith society

Problem - UK multi-faith society, made up of people with many different beliefs. Raises lots of question - members of some other faiths also have special days or times during week. Does this mean that these other days should be ‘special days’ too? What happens when religious duties interfere with your job or responsibilities.

Foundations of an ordered  society; school week, traditional opening hours.

It is not practical to allow every religion to have their own ‘Sabbath’ – the country needs specific foundations on which the business, education and economic world is based.  Wouldn’t work if every religion claimed a different day of the week – there would be no structure to society.

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Disagreements about the Sabbath

Freedom to interpret laws as you wish

If a society has rules, then it is important to keep them. What would happen to the community if everybody claimed the freedom to interpret the rules as they liked?

1994 Sunday Trading Law

There was a big outcry in 1994 when the UK law changed to permit shops to open on a Sunday.  It wasn’t just that it might prevent people going to church, but that it was claimed people would be pressured into working on Sundays and family life would suffer.

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