My younger two children, ages 4 and 2, love the church-produced Bible Videos, especially the series that features children talking about stories from the life of Christ. We watch two or three every night before bedtime, and I have come to enjoy how simply they explain the ministry and teachings of our Savior for young ones to understand.
Their favorite video has to be “Jesus Heals a Man on the Sabbath” (below), taken from John 5:5-12, wherein Christ meets a man who tells Him that he cannot walk, and the Lord tells him to “take up thy bed and walk,” and he does. Now, they like this one because if you go to about 1:57, a boy in a long-sleeve shirt and glasses gives his version of a scene using an accent (quite talented!), and my sons think it’s hilarious. If we’ve watched the full video 30 times, multiply that by 6 and that’s how much we’ve watched this stretch of it.
The repeated viewing of this clip, for all the laughs it gave my boys, opened up a deeper meaning of the video to me. The boy in the glasses is imitating the religious authorities in the video, who questioned why the man was violating a rule of the Sabbath by walking and carrying an item — and they really wanted to know who told him to do so.
Either the authorities never noticed the man sitting near the pool of the market, or they didn’t know of his ailment, or they were so caught up in a need to follow rituals that it isn’t dawning on them that someone was miraculously healed by the power of God.
Then, at the 2:31 mark of the video, a girl in a yellow sweater says: “Because on the Sabbath Day, you’re supposed to heal people.” She is clearly not here for the stern rebukes of first-century religious authorities. Christ on several occasions was criticized for healing people on the Sabbath, and here she is saying, “Not only was Jesus not wrong, but He was doing what everyone should be doing!”
It made me think of the Sabbath as a day of healing. That healing can take place in many ways — being physically present for someone who greatly needs it, a mental rest from issues that cause stress, time to spend with family and nurture relationships in a way that weekdays don’t allow (even if you live in the same house), moments to contemplate things that may be troubling you spiritually.
I don’t write this to decry rituals or Sabbath do’s-and-don’ts, as those can be a comfort to people and help them draw closer to God. It’s a matter of remembering the purpose, why the Sabbath was made for God’s children and not God’s children for the Sabbath.
The Lord’s Day is a gift to us, a manifestation of His grace that presents an opportunity for us to draw near to Him, to allow Him to help make us whole, and to work through us to bring hope and healing to others.