“The Lord of the Sabbath”

The seventh day of the week or the Sabbath was very important for Israel under the Old Covenant. The day on which God rested from His work of creation later became the sign of that covenant. Israel was to do no “work” on the Sabbath, but was to rest as God had rested (Exo 20:8-11). Those who violated or profaned the Sabbath were put to death (Exo 31:12-18). This in part explains why the Pharisees plotted to kill Jesus after He both permitted His disciples to pluck heads of grain (Mat 12:1-8), and healed a man on the Sabbath (12:9-14).
Israel’s opposition to Jesus, especially on the part of its leadership, was heightened over the issue of Sabbath observance. Like some in our day who attempt to impose legalistic standards not found in the Bible on God’s people, the Pharisees often imposed their oral traditions. Many in Israel were weary because of the heavy burden of traditions laid on them by their religious leaders (Mat 11:28, 23:1-4). Much of that burden was related to the Sabbath restrictions placed on them by the scribes and Pharisees. It was these very people Jesus invited to Himself in whom they would find rest for their souls, and a yoke easy to bear (11:28-30).
Jesus answered the accusations of unlawful Sabbath activity by issuing this statement, “For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” As Lord of the Sabbath, He could do what He wanted on it; He could even do away with it. However, Jesus did not violate the Sabbath or destroy it, but fulfilled it! As a result, we do not rest only one day a week, but have come to Jesus for unceasing, eternal, rest! As God rested from His work of creation, we have rested from our works and have found salvation rest (typified in the Promised land of Canaan, Heb 4:8-10) in Jesus Who has brought about the new creation!