Look closely at how Jesus practiced Sabbath because therein lies a lesson. For one, almost all Jesus’ Sabbath practices, in the eyes of the religious leaders of the day, looked like Sabbath breaking. Whatever the religious minds thought Sabbath should look like, the reality, for Jesus, was quite different.
But there’s something else here, almost hidden in plain sight: For Jesus, Sabbath is mostly about restoration. Has a cow fallen in a well? Lift it out! Has a woman been bent over for 18 years? Straighten her up! Are people hungry? Pluck grain and feed them! Story after story carries this same point: Sabbath is for restoration. Whatever is lost, broken or sick, Sabbath is meant to make whole.
This concept has had radical implications for my family’s Sabbath practice. We began to ask, What in our lives is withered or bent, broken or lost? What has our haste or distraction stolen or damaged? We would plan our Sabbath around restoring such things.
Had joy gone missing? We would do that which would bring it back — something so simple as a board game or watching old episodes of “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Were our bodies aching and drooping? We would do that which rested and revived them — sometimes no more than making a thermos of hot chocolate and visiting the beach on a winter’s day.
In this way, every Sabbath day became a gift shaped to meet a real and pressing need.