How to Keep the Third Commandment Rightly

Pentecost 15 Tuesday

Luke 14:5-6

“And he responded and said to them: Who among you, having an ox or donkey that has fallen into a well, will not quickly pull it out on a Sabbath day? And they could not respond to him in return.”

Jesus rebukes the blindness of the Jews and brings to shame those who want to master and reprove him. He convicts them based on an example of their own conduct how we are to use the Sabbath in freedom according to our and the neighbor’s need. For here they begin to argue with him because he healed the man with dropsy, accusing him that he violated the Sabbath, thinking that they have hit the nail on the head…Yet Jesus gives them the right answer:…”Friend, put it on the scales and do the math according to God’s Word: You think it is a lack of mercy if you did not take care of
your animals and are such a devil that you would leave a human being lie in his troubles, although God’s command tells you that you owe him all love and friendship, even your own life. On top, you want to be in the right and rebuke me for helping a sick man, although you want to be helped on a Sabbath, if you were in need; Here you would not like it if you neighbor left you in the lurch and, instead, talked much about the Sabbath, as you now do to your neighbor. You therefore want to be considered a great saint who already kept the Sabbath, although you do not understand what the Sabbath is and how it is to be kept. Your cow and donkey are smarter than you, scribe; they teach you what you are to do for them (and much more for your neighbor) when they are in need”…Therefore, learn here from Christ what the true meaning of the Sabbath is and how we are to distinguish between the external use of the Sabbath that concerns the time, hour, or place, and the necessary works of love which God wants to be kept whenever and wherever need requires it. In this way, we should know, as he says in Mark 2:27, that the Sabbath was ordained for the sake of man, and not man for the sake of the Sabbath, and that, therefore, man should be the lord of the Sabbath and should use it according to his own, or his neighbor’s, needs. In this way, you can observe this and other commandments of God in an unabridged way. For the true meaning of the Third Commandment is actually that we should use the Sabbath to hear God’s Word and to learn how we are to keep all other commandments regarding God and neighbor and how we are also to serve and help others through love to keep those commandments as well.

St. Louis ed., 12:1967-1971.

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