16 July 2010

Servile Work

Jesus’ SABBATH day activities included reading and teaching in the synagogue (Mark 1:21; Mark 6:2; Luke 4:16; Luke 4:31; Luke 6:6; Luke 13:10); justifying his disciples’ picking and eating of corn (Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5); and performing miracles of healing (Matthew 12:9-13; Mark 3:1-5; Luke 6:6-10; Luke 13:11-13; Luke 14:1-6; John 5:1-9; John 9:14). The miracles Jesus performed on the Sabbath was just one of the reasons the Jews wanted to kill Him (Matthew 12:14; Mark 3:6; John 5:16).

Now, the reasons Jesus used to justify these activities were as follows: David and his men ate holy bread (Matthew 12:4); the priests of the temple profane the Sabbath and are blameless (Matthew 12:5; Mark 2:25-26); the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath day (Matthew 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5); it’s OK to bring your ox out of a pit but not to heal a man on the Sabbath? (Matthew 12:11-12; Luke 13:15-16; Luke 14:5); the Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27); it’s not unlawful to do good on the Sabbath (Mark 3:4; Luke 6:9); it’s OK to circumcise a man on the Sabbath but to heal him? (John 7:22-23). All very good reasons.

Now, in addition to those arguments Jesus raised, He was careful to point out that the Pharisees’ interpretation of the Sabbath law was skewed (for example, Matthew 12:7). A possibility that I had never considered until today is the fact that perhaps the Pharisees didn’t acknowledge that not ALL work was banned on the Sabbath day. The type of work that was prohibited was SERVILE work.

I have not found a definitive definition for the Biblical usage of servile (help), but my hunch is that nothing Jesus did on the Sabbath day qualifies. Just fun to see something in the Bible that you hadn’t seen before. Have a great weekend.

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