J.C. Ryle on the Sabbath (pt. 3)

Luke 23:56 Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. (ESV)

The respect paid by Christ’s disciples to the fourth commandment.

We are told that the women who had prepared spices and ointment to anoint our Lord’s body ‘rested on the Sabbath day according to the commandment.’

This little fact is a strong indirect argument in reply to those who tell us that Christ abolished the fourth commandment.  Neither here nor elsewhere do we find anything to warrant such a conclusion.  We see our Lord frequently denouncing the man-made traditions of the Jews about Sabbath observance; we see him purifying the blessed day from superstitious and unscriptural opinions; we see Him  maintaining firmly that works of necessity and works of mercy were not breaches of the fourth commandment: but nowhere do we find him teaching that the Sabbath was not to be kept at all; and here, in the verse before us, we find His disciples as scrupulous as any about the duty of keeping holy a Sabbath day.  Surely they could never have been taught by their Master that the fourth commandment was not intended to be binding on Christians.

Let us cling firmly to the old doctrine that the Sabbath is not a mere Jewish institution, but a day which was meant for man from the beginning, and which was intended to be honoured by Christians quite as much as by Jews.  Let us not doubt that the apostles were taught by our Lord to change the day of the week to the first, although mercifully checked from publicly proclaiming the change in order to avoid giving offense to Israel. above all, let us regard the Sabbath as an institution of primary importance to man’s soul, and contend earnestly for its preservation amongst us all in its integrity.  It is good for body, mind and soul: it is good for the nation which observes it, and for the church which gives it honor.  It is but a few steps from ‘no Sabbath’ to ‘no God.’


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