Of the 10 Commandments, which is the longest? Well, it’s number 4: “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. 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 ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant or maidservant may rest as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day” (Deuteronomy 5:12-15).
The Sabbath day was meant to be a day of rest. In Jesus’ day, however, the Jews had added their own traditions. For instance, on one occasion Jesus was preparing to heal a man’s shriveled hand. Mark tells us, “Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath” (Mark 3:2). In response Jesus, “looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand! He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus” (Mark 3:5-6).
God was careful to spell out the Sabbath day requirements and purpose. The Jews, however, added their own traditional interpretations to the law. Healing, something unusual was judged to be a capital offense. They had added to the law to make it even longer, and by so doing had dishonored God. We must never add to God’s commands. To do so would cause Jesus to look on us with anger.