Ephesians 4.32—5.8; Psalm 1; Luke 13.10-17
Several of the Gospel readings for this week are set on the Sabbath, and it may be helpful to consider the significance of this day.
The first chapter of Genesis narrates creation across a sequence of six days. Chapter 2 opens with the declaration that “On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing. He rested on the seventh day after all the work he had been doing. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day he had rested after all his work of creating.” [Genesis 2.2-3] Several things may be noted: the seventh day was a day of completion, not a blank, inconsequential day. Further, God’s resting is an act of blessing, a gift. A much later commentator notes that rest is not only a time, but a space. “There must still be a place of rest reserved for God’s people, the seventh-day rest, since to reach the place of rest is to rest after your work, as God did after his.” [Hebrews 4.9-10]
Generations—indeed millennia—later the Torah of God commanded “For six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath for the lord your God. You shall do no work that day, neither you nor your son nor your daughter nor your servants, men or women, nor your animals nor the stranger who lives with you.” [Exodus 20.9-10] That universalised prohibition sets the stage for the Pharisees’ opposition to Jesus’ “work” of healing on the Sabbath. We shall continue our meditation on this theme throughout this week.