The Resurrection and the Sabbath
Part 2 of the series, "The Resurrection, Ascension and Kingdom" - John 5:16-21 - And for this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But He answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working."... 21 "For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.”
The Redemptive Purpose in Resurrection - The resurrection of Jesus was at the heart of God's redemptive purpose in the world. After the fall of man in Adam ("as in Adam all die") there needed to be a restoration ("so in Christ all shall be made alive"). Jesus did not become a ghost, but a fully incarnate glorified Man. All of the covenantal promises of redemption from Abraham (Gen. 12) onward are actually a start at restoration through a new humanity (Israel). Jesus is True Israel and is raised the True Adam.
The Reconstructive Purpose of the Sabbath - "Remember the sabbath day" (Ex. 20:8) - Sabbath observance included synagogue convocations and feasts of the Lord (Lev. 23:3-4). The sabbath was restorative and a glimpse into a past unfallen Edenic presence with the Lord (Gen. 3:8) when rest preceded “untoilen” labor. In a world of slavery it is the emancipation proclamation of Israel (Deut. 5:15). In Christ's ministry this is a significant controversy. After doing works of healing and restoration on the needy, Jesus was accused of sabbath-breaking. John 5:1 draws our attention to that this happens during, a “feast of the Jews” - i.e., Lev. 23:3-4. The Pharasaic Jews had turned what was meant for liberty into slavery. They had boiled the kid in its mother's milk (Ex. 23:19). They used what was meant to restore life, for death and judgment.
The Resurrection of the Sabbath - Jesus' answer to sabbath-breaking charges ... on the floor of the general assembly... are very interesting. "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working....For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will" (5:17-21). The work of redemption is resurrection. Here is the explicit connection between the sabbath and resurrection. Jesus is our sabbath. We were slaves, but now we are free. This takes us back again to the theme of restoration from the fall. After the fall we need restoration in full life. Jesus has begun this complete sabbath and we participate in His rest by faith. "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27). The True Man, the Last Adam was "Lord of the sabbath" (Mark 2:28).
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more
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