The Fourth Commandment: Part – 7

June 3, 2015
Saturday and Sunday
To those who argue if Saturday is still the Lord’s day or is replaced by Sunday, we say the express words of St. Paul the Apostle, "So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, …" (Col. 2:16-17). These are only symbols and references to the spiritual matters of the New Testament.

The same was said also about the circumcision (Acts 15:10-24). It was only a sign just as the Sabbath. When God rested on the seventh day from creating the world, this was a symbol of His true rest when He redeemed us and overcame death on Sunday. Even this Sunday on which we rest refers to the great Sabbath in the everlasting eternity "when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father,… The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. … that God may be all in all" (1 Cor. 15:24-28). Only then we come to the everlasting rest, the rest of eternity.

This small Sabbath then has changed into Sunday in Christianity. On that day the disciples used to meet and break bread (Acts 2:46). According to the Ethiopian church tradition, it is celebrated in honor of Christ’s resurrection from the dead (Mk. 16:9). On the first day of the week, after Jesus has been raised from the dead (Mk. 16:9), He appears to Mary Magdalene, Peter, Cleopas, and others. The same time of the week "a week later”, more literally, "after eight days again", Jesus appears to the eleven apostles and others (Jn. 20:26). After Jesus ascends (Ac. 1:9), on the feast of Pentecost or Shavuot (the 50th day from First fruits and thus usually calculated as the first day of the week), the Spirit of God is given to the disciples, who baptize 3,000 people into the apostolic fellowship. The second coming of Jesus Christ might be on Sunday as He promised His disciples that He would come again. (John 14:1-3)

It is also the day on which the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples and the early Church was founded. It was on Sunday also that the Lord Christ appeared to the disciples and women. The main point is that we keep the Lord’s Day holy and make of it a blessing to our lives and rejoice and be joyful on it in the Lord.

You shall not do any work

The Law commanded that no work be done on the Lord’s Day. And as they were used to celebrate the Sabbath from evening to evening (Lev. 23:32), they prepared themselves from Friday and they called Friday "the day of Preparation" (Luke 23:54).

The Jews used to carry out the Commandment, "You shall not do any work" in a literal way, lacking spirit. Even doing good on the Sabbath was considered by them a sin!! So they opposed the Lord Christ regarding this matter.

But the commandment not to work on that day did not mean turning the Lord’s Day into a day of laziness, sleep and rest in bed! Good things ought to be done on it. So a question that caused argument between the Jews and the Lord Christ was, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?" (Matt. 12:10, Luke. 14:3).

The Lord used to heal and teach on the Sabbath

The Lord used to intentionally heal many people on the Sabbath; the man born blind was healed by the Lord on the Sabbath intentionally "Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes." (John 9:14). He was born blind and the Lord could have healed him on any other day. It would not matter if he continued blind another day. But the Lord made it with purpose to establish a rule concerning the Sabbath.

He created eyes to the blind, out of the mud, in a miraculous way that demonstrated His divinity, but the Jews were literal and did not see the greatness and significance of the miracle but only said that He was a sinner because He did not observe the Sabbath (John 9:16,24).

The Lord also healed the man with the withered hand, and discussed the matter with them if it was lawful to cure on the Sabbath. He said to them, " …What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath. …" (Matt. 12:10-13).

He healed, on the Sabbath, also the woman who the devil crippled for eighteen years. He said to the leader of the synagogue, " … Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound; think of it; for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?" (Luke 13:10-16).

The Lord healed also the man at Bethe saida who had been ill for 38 years. The Lord could have healed him on any other day no matter if the thirty eight years increased by two days or so. But the Lord wanted to give a principle, He did not only heal the man but also ordered him to carry his bed and walk (John 5:2-8).

On the Sabbath, He healed also the man who had dropsy (Luke 14:1-6). Furthermore, when His disciples plucked heads of grain on the Sabbath and the Pharisees objected, He answered them, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:23-28), and said to them, "I desire mercy and not sacrifice" (Matt. 12:7).

To prove to them that a spiritual work is lawful on the Sabbath He said, " … on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? " (Matt. 12:5, 6). By this, He meant circumcision on the Sabbath; for a child was to be circumcised on the eighth day, and if this came on a Sabbath, he was circumcised and yet they were guiltless. Thus He said to them, " … If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the Law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath?" (John 7: 21- 23).

To be continued …

Source: H.H. Pope Shenouda III, 1997.Contemplations on the Ten Commandments: The fourth Commandment, Volume I. with slight edition.