But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”
More and more things remind me of just how long I have lived and how so many things are different from the time of my childhood and youth. As many of you know, Dad is a retired pharmacist and up to my early teen years, he was off and the drugstore was closed on Sunday. In fact, many gas stations, department and grocery stores were closed on Sunday as well as other businesses, some restaurants, and theaters. It was the late 50s and early 60s and so Sundays were still reserved as a day for rest and worship.
Living in a small town people knew Dad and knew how to get in touch with him, if they needed a prescription to be filled or refilled. I remember him getting calls and off we would go to open the pharmacy so he could fill the prescription. There were activities that we did not do on the Lord’s Day, Sunday or the Christian Sabbath, but answering the telephone, opening up the drugstore and filling a needed prescription were not among them. Sometimes people could have planned better, in the case of refills, but when they called, Dad responded.
As I said many things are different from the Sundays of my childhood and youth. We went to Sunday school and worship. We often had Sunday dinner with my paternal grandparents and other extended family members. We would converse, read, take naps and walks, make visits, and we children played. On Sunday many places of recreation were closed … bowling alleys, putt putt golf courses, swimming pools, and theaters. Today these places are open for business and except for Sunday school and worship, Sundays seem much like any other day. Then, children’s sport activities were not held on Sundays and sometimes not on Wednesday afternoons and evenings, which were reserved for other church activities. Yes, things are quite different on Sundays from what they used to be like!
In today’s scripture from Luke, we find two stories where Jesus is challenged about activities He did on the Sabbath. The first one concerned providing food for hungry disciples on the Sabbath. The second one centered around healing a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. While these activities were technically in violation of the Sabbath, they were done for the welfare of people. I believe what got the Pharisees’ dander up was not what Jesus did, but what He said: “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath” The Pharisees did not recognize Jesus as the One who had such authority.
While I do not see our society returning to “the way things were done in the 50s and 60s,” I do believe we need to be reminded that there is a reason for observing a day of rest and worship. If we are going to violate the laws of the Sabbath, let us make certain that we do so first to honor God and second for the welfare of others and finally for ourselves.
Lord of the Sabbath and Our Lord, we thank You for instructing us to keep the Sabbath, for we need a day for rest and worship. Save us from strict legalism. Keep our eyes open to opportunities where we can help others and thereby glorify and honor You. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.