A number of important aspects are of note here. The first is that the Sabbath was not made for its own sake, as with the other days of the week, but with the specific purpose of being a service to mankind. An alternate translation is that it was made "on account of man."
The Sabbath, then, is a specific, thoughtful gift of the Creator to serve His creation. If it were to be used by mankind merely for physical rest, any one of the seven days of the week would be acceptable. Yet, God set apart the seventh day specifically and linked it to creation (Genesis 2:1-3). Therefore, God's purpose in establishing the Sabbath is primarily to support man's part in God's spiritual creation. Such use goes far beyond mere bodily rest.
A second item is that God made the Sabbath for humanity, not just for the Jews. As God created it, its intention is universal. He made it to ensure mankind's physical and spiritual well-being.
A third point is that Jesus claims the authority as its Lord to teach us how to keep it, not whether to keep it. Both the immediate context and the gospels as a whole show that Jesus expected it to be kept and offered no alternatives.
Nations routinely honor citizens they believe have made significant contributions to the well-being of their people, and they often do this by setting apart a day as a memorial to them so that others will remember their contributions. For example, in this nation George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King have been so honored. God says in Exodus 31:13: "Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you."
By God's own words, He is memorialized and therefore honored by our observance of the Sabbath. Compared to any man, God's contributions to the well-being of every living thing are beyond counting, but one stands out as witness to all: He is Creator. What an awesome statement to consider. Everything in and on this fantastic, floating greenhouse we call Earth is a tribute to and witnesses of His genius, power, and loving providence.
Mankind, on the other hand, has yet to create its first flea! Yet, if a man did create one, how much publicity would he want? What honors might he demand?
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment
It helps us to understand a little better if we retranslate just one word: The Sabbath was made on account of man. Man needs the Sabbath! He needs it physically, because he needs to rest (Exodus 20). Over and above that, he needs the Sabbath even more spiritually (Deuteronomy 5:15) to recognize the fact that he has been redeemed. He is no longer in bondage, and he needs to use his time to be prepared for the Kingdom of God, to please God, to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, to maintain the liberty that we have been given, and to grow towards the Kingdom of God.
Nowhere does Jesus say that the Sabbath is done away. He does not indicate it at all—anywhere! Thus, when He says that He is "Lord of the Sabbath," He is saying that He has the authority to determine how the day is to be kept. We ought to be able to see—especially from what is recorded in John 5, 7 and 9—that God does not intend the day to be one of loafing around
There may be occasions when that is needed, because a person is simply worn out. We need to feel that we have the liberty to "crash" on that day. But if that is occurring to us regularly, we need to ask ourselves, "Why do I need to crash on the Sabbath?" Then, we need to make an adjustment on the other six days. We must repent, so that the day does not have to be used to "crash"—because that begins to profane God's intention for the Sabbath.
He intends the day to be for the good of His spiritual children so that they are prepared for the Kingdom of God and remember why they are here. It can, therefore, be a day of very intensive work, but it is work that leads to salvation, getting prepared for the Kingdom of God, and giving service to those in need of salvation. It is through these things that growth and faith in God are promoted.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 3)
These verses contain a number of things critical to Sabbath keeping:
- Jesus refers to the Sabbath as a specific day; it is the Sabbath, not a Sabbath.
- The Sabbath was not made for its own sake as were the other six days, but as a service to mankind. An alternate translation would be that it "was made on account of man." Jesus presents it as the Creator's specific and thoughtful gift to man.
- It was not made just for the Jews, but for mankind. When God created the Sabbath, He intended it from the beginning as a UNIVERSAL blessing to benefit mankind. He made it to help ensure man's physical and spiritual well-being.
- The broader context reveals a disagreement over how to keep it. Jesus claims to be its Lord, its Owner or Master, and He thus lays claim to His right to show by His example and verbal instruction how to keep it, not whether to keep it. Since He expresses no disagreement with keeping it, He implies that He expects man—not just Jews—to keep it. He has a perfect opportunity here to reply that it does not matter if men keep it, but He gives no such indication.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part One) (1997)
Why Is Jesus Called 'Son of Man' (Mark 2:28)?
Scripture does not refer to Christ as "the Son" of God the Father (except in prophecy—see Psalm 2:7; II Samuel 7:14) until His human birth (Hebrews 5:5-8; Luke 1:32). Likewise, the Bible does not refer to God the Father as such before that time. In fact, the Father's existence is not clearly revealed until after Christ's coming (Luke 10:22; Matthew 11:27; John 1:18).
In Old Testament times, Christ had many different titles. Since that time, the title and attributes of "Son of Man" have been added to them. This title identifies His humanity and His affinity to the rest of mankind, for we are all "sons of man." However, unlike us, He was and is also God, so He has become the perfect Mediator between God and man (Hebrews 8:6; 9:15).
To become human, He was required to divest Himself of His glory to become our sacrifice for sin (Philippians 2:5-9; Hebrews 2:9), a vital part of God's plan of salvation. The author of Hebrews writes:
Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. . . . Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. (Hebrews 2:14-15, 17-18; see 4:15)
So, this title designates a very important attribute of Christ—that He was human just like us and experienced life like us. In His present position of High Priest at the right hand of God, He acts as our Advocate before the Father, helping Him to understand our weaknesses and procure mercy and aid (I John 2:1; Hebrews 2:16; 4:16; 6:19-20; 7:24-27; 10:12-22).
The Names of God
Other commentary entries containing this verse: