Shabbat and Shalom


Dear friends,

I am a Christian pastor (not evangelical or fundamentalist!) and I have a question about Shabbat. I pray you will have patience with my question if it is poorly worded, especially if in any way I give offense.

Stories about Jesus tell of him performing forbidden deeds on the Sabbath. (Picking grain, healing a man with a withered hand) The Christian scriptures (in Mark 2 and 3) give no indication that life was being threatened in either case. And, in both cases, Jesus and his followers were criticized by the Pharisees. (I’ll get to my question)

I believe that the Pharisees were quite right in their criticism.

Am I right in believing that Shabbat is core to the Jewish faith of the day? What I mean is not just that it was ‘important,’ but that in some ways it was a non-negotiable correlate for the shalom that G-d intends for all of creation……that the tob me’od of Creation offers a picture of life in all of its fullness, i.e., Shalom. So, when you start picking away at Shabbat – by doing the kinds of things Jesus and his friends were doing – you are doing far more than picking away at little rules. You are, in fact, denying that G-d’s design for creation is worthy; by abrogating Shabbat you are second-guessing the hesedh that is G-d’s orientation toward his people, and even the whole cosmos. It’s like a stack of Jenga sticks, it seems to me: pull one out and the whole thing could collapse: the “thing” being a complete cosmology of divine delight in creation. Breaking Sabbath aligns one with a vision of a godless world. It’s just that serious…..and hence the Pharisees were correct. Is that a more-or-less accurate depiction of the seriousness of Sabbath and its observance . . . . . That “Sabbath” and “Shalom” are very much in the same family…..not the same, but with a very substantial overlap?

Of course, as a mainline Christian I look to an eighth day Sabbath, along with associations of ‘new creation’ and even ‘new Adam’ (both are phrases used by the apostle Paul), but that’s really another story. I just wonder whether I am accurately characterizing an ancient, and perhaps modern, sense of Shabbat/Shalom.

I thank you for your patience and kindness in considering my question.



  1. I think that your analysis is very accurate. Shabbat is truly “non-negotiable”. A Jewish writer once wrote that “More than the Jews have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews.” The minute one starts to treat Shabbat with anything less than the seriousness that it needs to be kept properly, it is the beginning of a slippery slope that can lead a person to a state that they are not just not keeping Shabbat but that all the other Commandments are let go of as well. As Christianity has proved.

    Best wishes from the Team