WHEN JESUS HONORED THE FIRST DAY
"Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you," JOH 20:19.
At the end of forty-nine years there are two Sabbaths in a row, the forty-ninth and fiftith years. The forty-ninth year was the year of the atonement and the fiftieth year was the jubilee. The jubilee is the resurrection. The Lord is teaching us that the Sabbath was moved from the seventh day to the first day at that point. That jubilee was that second Sabbath in a row, and it was where there were two Sabbaths one right after the other. The Lord now honors the first day of the week from that day on--from the day of jubilee--the day of the resurrection of Christ, which was on the first day of the week. That’s the New Testament Sabbath.
The atonement was made on the forty-ninth year, and the fiftieth year was the second Sabbath right after each other which points to that resurrection of Christ as the institution of the New Testament Sabbath on the first day of the week.
The Lord will always bestow honor upon His own institutions. If we want to confirm, in fact, that the first day of the week is the New Testament Sabbath, then we must see how the Lord Jesus Christ bestowed honor upon it. Before the atonement it was Christ’s custom to honor the seventh day with His presence. We see that throughout Scripture, and we see in LUK 4:16; "And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and, as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up to read." That was His custom. He honored the seventh day Sabbath up until the Day of Atonement. Then from that day forward, He honored the first day. The Lord honored the first day as the Lord’s day. Scripture is void of one single reference of Jesus honoring the seventh day with His presence after His resurrection.
After Christ’s resurrection, He honored the first day of the week with His presence. MAR 16:9; "Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first unto Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils." We see that Jesus appeared to the two men on the way to Emmaus on the first day of the week in LUK 24:33-36. "And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread. And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you." This was the same day - that same first day of the week. We see that Christ appeared to His disciples on the first day of the week in JOH 20:19; "Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you." In ACT 20:7 we see that in the New Testament church the disciples gathered on the first day of the week; "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight." The first day of the week is repeatedly referred to in Scripture as the Lord’s day. That transition took place on that great jubilee, c.f., Leviticus.
It’s so clear there were these Sabbaths, one every seven years for forty-nine years and then another the following year. Two Sabbaths, one right after the other. When Christ lay in the grave was the Old Testament Sabbath, and the New Testament Sabbath on the first day of the week honours the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let’s look at one more perfect confirmation of this. The Lord gave special honor to the first day of the week by fulfilling that which was spoken by the prophet Joel, sending the promise of the Father on the day of Pentecost. ACT 2:32-33 says, "This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear." The day of Pentecost was on the first day of the week. There are many Scriptures that help establish that the New Testament Sabbath - the New Testament Lord’s day is the first day of the week, and not the seventh.
It’s very important that we study Leviticus, especially LEV 25:8-10, to see how that these Sabbaths of years were the types and shadows of the atonement in the forty-ninth year and the jubilee in the fiftieth year. It isn’t a matter of speculation, but it is clearly set forth that the jubilee is the symbol of the resurrection of Christ.
How welcome to the saints, when pressed
With six days’ noise, and care, and toil,
Is the returning day of rest,
Which hides them from the world awhile!
Now, from the throng withdrawn away,
They seem to breathe a different air;
Composed and softened by the day,
All things another aspect wear.
How happy if their lot is cast
Where stated the gospel sounds!
The word is honey to their taste,
Renews their strength and heals their wounds.
With joy they hasten to the place
Where they their Saviour oft have met;
And while they feast upon his grace,
Their burdens and their griefs forget.
This favored lot, my friends, is ours;
May we the privilege highly prize,
And find these consecrated hours
Sweet earnests of immortal joys.