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It wasn’t easy coming up with an illustration for the letter X, but maybe this will work. As you may have seen, Jesus had a lot of run-ins with a group called the Pharisees. (More about them later) for the most part, the Pharisees were usually upset with Jesus for breaking their rules for the Sabbath day. Now … understandably we all need rest, so this could have been good – but something happened between when Moses wrote these words, and when Jesus walked the earth – that something was tradition. You see the Pharisees took the simple idea of resting one day a week and … figured they had to help God out by … telling people what resting really was. So, they came up with different things that were prohibited (Crossed out or X’d out) on the Sabbath. Apparently Talmudic rabbis developed a list of 39 categories of work that a Jew could not do on the Sabbath. They are as follows: There was to be no sowing, plowing, reaping, binding sheaves, threshing, winnowing, or cleansing of crops. There was to be no grinding, sifting, kneading, or baking. There was to be no shearing wool, washing wool, beating wool, dyeing wool, spinning, weaving, or making two loops. There was to be no weaving two threads, separating two threads, tying a knot, loosening a knot, sewing two stitches, ripping out to sew two stitches. There was to be no hunting a deer, slaughtering, flaying, salting a hide, curing a skin, scraping a skin, or cutting up a skin. There was to be no writing of two letters, or erasing to write two letters. There was to be no building, or pulling down. There was to be no putting out a fire, or lighting a fire. There was to be no striking with a hammer. There was to be no carrying objects from one house into another. You were not to walk more than a Sabbaths day journey. (Approx. 2,000 ft.) They had listed other ways that a man could break the Sabbath too. You could not eat an egg that was laid on the Sabbath. If you got a tack in your shoe, you had to stop and take it out, lest you be accused of carrying a burden on the Sabbath. Now, you could swallow vinegar, if you had a toothache, but you couldn’t hold it in your mouth: that was considered healing on the Sabbath. If a flea happened to bite you, you had to let him gnaw away, because there’s no hunting on the Sabbath; and so, you couldn’t bother that flea. They just had a lot of laws and rules. Again, no fire could be kindled on the Sabbath day, no matter how cold it was. Finally, if an ox fell in the ditch, you could get him out; but if a man fell in a ditch, you just had to leave him there. How many readers have broken these Sabbath laws?

Jesus came along and did not focus on crossing out (or Xing out) all these activities like the Pharisees did, so they did not like Jesus. Jesus explained that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27) In other words God knew that man not only needed a day of rest, but that on that day man did not need to spend the entire Sabbath day counting and avoiding all of the things he could possibly do wrong. The Sabbath was not just a day of rest however, it was to be a day of thanking God (worship) for delivering them out of Egypt, bondage, and slavery. (Burnt offerings were made on the Sabbath) God did not want His people to enter into their own new bondage of working and never resting. (Lev. 23:3; Num. 28:9-10) Man needed to spend his time just doing one thing that should never be crossed (or X out). And that is spending time with his Creator. Jesus also told the Pharisees that He was Lord of the Sabbath. (Matt. 12:7-8) In other words God is Lord of all things. And God has a greater law than the law of the Sabbath. God has a law of love. If someone needs to be healed on the Sabbath, God’s love for that person exceeds any other law.

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