“And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28)
Adam Clarke explains it well when he said, “That he might have the seventh part of his whole time to devote to the purposes of bodily rest and spiritual exercises.”
The body, like a machine needs to “shut down” and rest and repair. Offering a day of rest affords man this opportunity. But the day of rest is also meant to refresh; not just the body but heart and soul as well.
The Sabbath was a festival, it was the seventh day of the week. No work was to be done on this day. It was man’s day of dedication to God and to his spiritual welfare. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath”. In other words, the Sabbath was not to be some other form of work. This was a festival, a joyous event. A time to relax and release and commune with God.
Clarke said something very pertinent when he said, “The ordinances of religion should be regulated according to their end, which is the honor of God, and the salvation of men.” The Sabbath removed mans’ occupation or rather preoccupation (His work) and allowed him to dedicate 100 percent of his time and energies to God.
Without the Sabbath, without man taking time out from his work a day life and concentrating on God and his religion man will spiritually break down. Man physically needs to subtract himself from work all the while needing to add himself to all Godly things.
“The sabbath was made a day of rest, only in order to its being a day of holy work, a day of communion with God, a day of praise and thanksgiving and the rest from worldly business is therefore necessary, that we may closely apply ourselves to this work, and spend the whole time in it, in public and in private but then time is allowed us for that which is necessary to the fitting of our bodies for the service of our souls in God’s service, and the enabling of them to keep pace with them in that work.” (Matthew Henry)
Can you imagine where religion would be if man worked seven days a week? If man makes no time for God then there will be no God in man’s life. This is another meaning of what Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man”. Man needs to put the brakes on his worldly ventures and spend time with God or else he will be consumed by his ventures and the world.
“And it is easily capable of proof that no institution has been more signally blessed to man‘s welfare than the Sabbath. To that we owe, more than to anything else, the peace and order of a civilized community. Where there is no Sabbath there is ignorance, vice, disorder, and crime. On that holy day the poor and the ignorant, as well as the learned, have undisturbed time to learn the requirements of religion, the nature of morals, the law of God, and the way of salvation.” (Albert Barnes)