Our speaker last Sunday focused his message on Mark 2:23-3:6 and the Lord's confrontation with the Pharisees over what was permissible on the Sabbath. The Pharisees criticized Jesus and His disciples for "harvesting" a few heads of grain to satisfy their hunger. Harvesting was forbidden on the Sabbath according to the traditions that the religious authorities had added to the law.
A little later Jesus challenged His detractors by healing a man on the Sabbath and then posing this question: "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" (Mark 3:4). The Pharisees wouldn't have lifted a hand to save a drowning man on the Sabbath.
Jesus was not denying the validity of the fourth commandment given to Moses. He was trashing its abuses. We just can't leave things alone, can we? We feed on the extremes: ignore the instruction completely or tie it up in so many knots that it is impossible to maneuver. Our speaker noted that the religious leaders had instituted so many extra rules about the Sabbath in order to prevent themselves from any possibility of breaking the original.
The original instruction from Exodus 20 goes this way: "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy" (vss. 8-11).
Given that God doesn't need a nap we can assume that He did what He did as an example for us to follow. The idea behind "holy" is set apart, different than the other days, observed in the way that focuses our attention on God.
Take a break!
The human body is designed to take rest periods, times to do something other than the normal work. The human soul is designed to need time to refocus on its Creator and renew its power through worship and meditation.
Such remembrance doesn't prevent us from doing good. In fact, it is the God-given, perfect opportunity to leave behind the mundane and focus on the humane and the divine.