Transformed – teen devotion – June 2, 2024

One truth shared: The rest (Sabbath) we need most—from guilt, from worry, from shame, from hopelessness—is graciously given to us by the Lord of the Sabbath.

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”
Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.
Mark 2:23-3:5

Rest is a Gift, Not Something to Be Earned

It’s easy to see rest as a reward for doing hard work. A vacation is time off that you’ve earned after weeks of long hours on the job. Christmas or summer break is a well-deserved hiatus from school after studying hard for the semester and final exams.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying some well-deserved rest and down time after working hard on the job or at school, but it would be a mistake to believe that the spiritual rest that God desires for us is similarly earned through hard work. Unfortunately, we can easily slip into this way of thinking. It’s what many of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day thought.

God’s Sabbath Day commandment was originally given to Israel as a day of rest, a day to remember all of God’s creating and saving blessings. But the Pharisees piled on many of their own rules and regulations to God’s Sabbath commands. The joy in recalling God’s blessings was smothered by worries about whether one had done or not done something covered by the rules. In time, following the Sabbath rules became a way of earning God’s favor and even earning heaven.

This attitude about the Sabbath was what prompted the Pharisees to confront Jesus on two different occasions. They tried to trap Jesus, claiming that he was violating the Sabbath.
Jesus was deeply distressed by their stubborn and hateful hearts. He responded to their accusations from scripture, not from their interpretation of the law. As Lord of the Sabbath he defined what the Sabbath is and what it’s not.

The Sabbath was not created as a means to earn the grace of God but as God’s gift to us. The spirit of the Sabbath promotes mercy and compassion over ceremony and rules. Most importantly, by rejecting Jesus the Pharisees were forfeiting God’s favor, his heaven and his spiritual rest only found in him.

Do you want to experience true spiritual rest? This summer, you can find it – not because the school year has ended and you’re looking forward to an upcoming vacation. Summer rest is found in Jesus. It’s rest from your sins, guilt and shame through the forgiveness Jesus won for you by his death on the cross. It’s rest you can experience no matter what the circumstances around you may be. It’s a foretaste of the final full eternal rest you’ll have in heaven.

Prayer:Lord of the Sabbath, thank you for giving me true spiritual rest as a gift through Jesus Christ. My soul yearns for that rest in the middle of my busy, sometimes stressful life. Help me to work hard in your kingdom while also enjoying the rest I find in your Word and Sacraments. Amen.

Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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