Biblical References: Luke 4:17-19; Luke 4:31-37; Luke 6:1-11; Luke 13:10-16
The Sabbath is mentioned 17 times in Luke, more than in any other gospel. What is it that Luke—and Jesus!—would want us to learn about the Sabbath from these references?
1. In Luke 4, Luke tells us that Jesus attends the synagogue service in Nazareth “as was his custom.” At this service, he read from the book of Isaiah. What do we learn about Jesus and the Sabbath from this passage?
2. In the Jewish calendar, the concept of “Sabbath” extended beyond the weekly, seventh-day Sabbath. Every 7th year was to be a sabbatical year, and after seven sabbatical years, the 50th year was to be a year of “Jubilee.” On that year, farm land was to be given rest (no sowing or harvesting), slaves were freed, debts were cancelled, and land was returned to its original owners. Some who work with ancient Jewish chronologies have argued that the year Jesus began his public ministry was, quite literally, this year of Jubilee. Why was the year of Jubilee never fully practiced? Is Jubilee a good summary of what Jesus ministry was all about?
3. Jesus placed special emphasis on healing on the Sabbath. This caused problems because of how the religious authorities of Jesus’ day viewed healing and the Sabbath. For them, Sabbath was not a day to seek physical healing unless the condition was life-threatening. Taking medicine or using medical interventions on the Sabbath was breaking God’s law, in their view. Review the Sabbath healing recorded in Luke 6:6-11. In light of this story, how would you say Jesus responds to the “no healing on Sabbath” view of the religious leaders?
4. Earlier in this same chapter (Luke 6:1-5), Jesus and his disciples are criticized for picking and eating heads of grain on the Sabbath. What point is Jesus trying to make when he reminds his critics of an Old Testament story about David? Then, Jesus declares himself to be “Lord of the Sabbath.” What does this mean?
5. It is sometimes assumed that Jesus did away with the Sabbath. How would you respond to this? How does Luke 23:53 – 24:3 speak to this issue? Would Jesus’ closest followers still rest on Sabbath “in obedience to the commandment” (Luke 23:56) if Jesus had taught that the Sabbath was no longer important?
6. Seventh-day Adventists are especially concerned about Sabbath-keeping. Based on your experience, what are the dangers that come from this focus? What are the blessings? At the very core, what does it mean to be someone who keeps the Sabbath?