And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.Matthew 12:11-12
We have previously discussed that Jesus was the fulfillment of the shadow of the Sabbath in the Old Testament. Jesus is rest for the people of God. We also observed that the abundance of examples throughout the New Testament show that we should worship on Sunday, rightly called “The Lord’s Day.” With this is mind, we should ever be encouraging one another to public worship each week. It should not be a question in our family’s mind whether or not we will attend church each Sunday.
Having said that, emergencies do happen. But that is the key word, emergency.
Jesus gives the example of a sheep falling into a pit on the Sabbath. This is not the danger of losing a pet. This is endangering a man’s livelihood and ability to provide for himself and his family. Jesus clearly states that in this type of emergency the Lord allows for us to take care of and not be at fault for not honoring the Lord on His day.
I do not believe it is necessary to give an in depth list of what is allowed and what is not allowed. The is exactly what the Pharisees did. However, we can learn from this lesson a few key guidelines for what is considered an emergency.
A planned absence of any kind is not an emergency. In the Lord’s example, the sheep fell in on the Sabbath, not the day before. If it fell in the day before, then the owner should save it then. Again, this is a true emergency not just an inconvenience.
Illness from excessive celebration the night before is not an emergency. That is as if you pushed the sheep in the pit yourself! We know the consequences for late night Saturday fun. Therefore, we should keep that in mind before the festivities begin.
When a person looks for a job, he should pray for the Lord’s help. A sure sign that a job is not a blessing from God is if it keeps the person from worship on the Lord’s Day. Why would God provide for a person a job that would rob His Son of much deserved glory? He wouldn’t.
There are endless questions that arise when we look at all the possible things that can happen on a Sunday. Therefore, remember our liberty in Christ. Apply the few principles given above and then listen to the Holy Spirit Who dwells in you. If you think it is wrong to miss, it probably is!