Sabbath. Marriage. These are the two unique things God gave humanity before sin ever entered the picture. He gave them at the same time. Jesus died on a Friday afternoon. Adam and Eve were born on a Friday afternoon. God gave them to each other and then gave them the Sabbath. It was the seventh day yet for Adam and Eve it was the first day. Do you think they had a step count? Do you think their minds were occupied with rules and restrictions?
If we are to understand something even close to correctly we must go back to the beginning. When restoring something we go back and study the original. The Sabbath was both the seventh day and the first day. For Adam and Eve it must have been beyond amazing. Talk about sensory overload. They were discovering everything for the first time. All was brand new. It's hard to even imagine. God introduced them to everything on Sabbath. Their existence in every practical sense began on this sanctified day of rest. In modern terms we might call it their honeymoon.
Fast forward about 4000 years. Jesus is walking along with His followers and the Pharisees stop Him to ask about divorce. Specifically they ask Him essentially how to lawfully escape marriage. "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?" Matt. 19:3
The question is framed to reflect the reality of the culture - Men own women...
19:4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Jesus sends them back to the beginning. He sends them back to a time when a man and woman were equal just as God created them to be and when they married they became one. Jesus is doing much more than answering their question, He is correcting their question. He is reframing the whole picture.
They choke on His response. They appeal to the writings of Moses which permit divorce.
Jesus agrees that Moses did permit it because it was necessary because of the condition of their hearts but that was never the design nor intent for marriage. It was to last forever. Then Jesus drops this bombshell - "divorce is not permissible except for unfaithfulness and anyone who divorces outside this reason is an adulterer."
To this bombshell the disciples add a nuclear warhead: "Jesus if this is the case it is better never to marry..."
Marriage. Sabbath. Given together in the beginning and by the time Jesus shows up on the landscape of human experience both are warped beyond recognition. All that remains from the original design is the titles. All true meaning has been lost. Sabbath has become a shrine of humanly crafted rules and restrictions by which humans swear allegiance to an angry slave master deity and marriage is an institution where a man buys and owns property (his wife) until he decides he wants a new piece of property.
The disciples - Peter, James, John etc... when they hear what Jesus has to say about marriage declare in horror "If that's the way it is better for a man never to marry!"
You see Light has come into the darkness and the darkness could not comprehend it.
What is the point of all this? Sabbath didn't become dark that day Jesus was in the borrowed tomb. Sabbath had been dark for millenia. Right beside the Sabbath, marriage had also been dark for millenia. What do they have in common? Relationship. Marriage is not ownership or even partnership. Marriage is relationship. Sabbath was the gift in time to build relationships. So important was it that God designed it as the seventh day of creation but the first full day for the pair to establish relationship with Him and each other and all that He made for them. Weekly the celebration was to be repeated and the relationship deepened.
Yesterday I had a discussion that revolved around the worldview of Richard Dawkins. I pulled his bio to try and understand the man behind the worldview. I was not surprised at all to find he is on his third wife. A man that far from the Light is incapable of healthy relationships. We live in a world increasingly incapable of healthy relationships. Why? Because we have lost sight of the Designer and His design and are fumbling in the darkness.
Don't miss the point. It is not just the Dawkins' of this world. Far worse it is the followers of Jesus who are so stunted in their capacity for relationships that they declare "If that's the way it is it is better for a man not to marry!"
The death like silence on the one Sabbath that should have been the greatest one since humanity left the first garden is proof positive of how dark the hearts of even His followers had become.
Light shone in the darkness but the darkness could not comprehend it. Thankfully as Mary stumbles through the dark streets of Jerusalem towards the tomb the dawn is approaching and like a friend of mine likes to say: "You can't hold back the dawn."
See you tomorrow.