The Sabbath Was Made For Man

“Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.’”—Mark 2:27 (NIV)

Have you ever heard the expression, “Make your money work for you, not the other way around.” Basically, this saying is trying to tell us that money should not own or control us.

In today’s verse, Jesus conveys a similar idea to the expression above. But instead of money having its power flipped, here it’s the Sabbath.

So, what is Sabbath? Well, the root meaning of the word is “to cease.” God wants His people to cease from their regular routines. As laid out in the Ten Commandments, the people of Israel were to set apart the seventh day of the week (our Saturday) as a day of rest from their daily work (Exodus 16:23-29). Why? Two key reasons:

  1. We need to rest in order to live healthy and sustainable lives. Otherwise, we’ll have no energy and we’ll break down physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Knowing this inherent need of humans, God graciously built a restful rhythm into Israel’s way of life.
  2. We need to remember God is our true and ultimate Provider. The Sabbath Day was a powerful spiritual catalyst that allowed the faith of the Israelites and their dependence on God to grow.

As Matthew Henry stated, “Man was not made for the Sabbath, as if his keeping it could be of service to God, nor was he commanded to keep outward observances to his real hurt. Every observance respecting it is to be interpreted by the rule of mercy.”

The Sabbath is not an act of service to God, but an example of mercy from God. It was made for our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. The problem is we take this simple command of God and add to it, become slaves to it, make an idol of it, and are extremely legalistic about it.

Here, Jesus reminds us that the Sabbath was designed to bless and benefit us, not to entrap or enslave us. And by severely enforcing personal “convictions” about what "work" means upon others, we’re distorting the very heart of this command.

In light of this, I pray for the following three things:

  1. We build a Sabbath rhythm into our lives for our good and the good of our loved ones. It’s vital, beneficial, gives us an opportunity to devote time to the Lord and our loved ones, and builds our faith as we rest and rely on Him.
  2. We never use a command or principle of God to burden others, because the commands of God are always for our good and His glory, not to enslave us or for us to earn the favor of God.
  3. We live in a way that frees people to experience the fullness of God’s love, grace, presence, and peace that we have in Christ Jesus.

PAUSE: Why did God command we take a Sabbath?

PRACTICE: Institute your own personal Sabbath day to rest in Him, remember His faithfulness, and enjoy Him and His good creation.

PRAY: Father, thank You for the Sabbath, which You instituted for my good. Help me to build this rhythm of rest into my life and to help others do the same. But also help me to never burden others in Your name and instead help them experience your freedom and peace. Amen.

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.