Why Do We Worship on Sunday’s?
A few weeks ago, on the podcast, I talked about why you need to be at church. Why it’s good to be together, and why it’s good to worship together. But there have been questions asked now about, okay, so if we’re going to come to church, why on Sunday, why is it that Christians gather together for worship on Sunday? I want to respond to those questions that have been asked and explain to you why it is that Christians need not just to worship and not just to worship together but why we need to do that on Sunday. This is something I’ve discovered that a lot of Christians don’t understand. It’s actually something that the pandemic and the culture have changed. We used to live in a culture where everything was closed down on Sunday, and that was, so everybody could go to church. Now, we live in a culture where everything’s open and running on Sunday, and there are opportunities to compete with our church attendance for other things that are more fun. And so, why do we do this on Sunday? It’s actually not just a new question. It’s also an urgent question. The reality is that at the beginning of the Bible, the sacred day of the week for God’s people is Saturday. But by the time you get to the end of the Bible, the sacred day of the week for God’s people is Sunday. So, why is it that is true? And why do we worship on Sunday? As opposed to any other day of the week. Of course, we can, and we should get together at other times and in other places; as Christians, none of that’s ever wrong. A lot of it is right. But what’s so important about Sunday? Why is it a priority? Let me give you three reasons.
1. Because of Who Jesus Is
In Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. He says in Matthew 5:17-19 that “he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.” That’s a fascinating statement from Jesus. What Jesus is saying is that he came to do something with the law that is different. Jesus didn’t come to get rid of the law, he didn’t come to abolish the law, he says. Jesus also, though, doesn’t come to repeat the law. He doesn’t just repeat everything he’s heard in the Law of Moses. Jesus, he says, comes to fulfill the law. That is, Jesus comes to be everything that the law was intended to be. Everything the law was pointing to has to do with Jesus. Jesus is that fulfillment of the law. And we are aware that the law commanded rest a Sabbath rest on the seventh day of the week. And Jesus says that he comes to be the fulfillment of that Sabbath rest. in Matthew 11:28, just an absolutely glorious passage where Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” What we find out is that what the Bible had been teaching about the need for the people of God to have rest isn’t fulfilled in a day of the week; it is fulfilled in a person. We find our rest in Jesus, who obeyed the law for us, who died on the cross to pay for our failures to keep the law, and who rose from the grave. Now we can come to him, and we can find our rest, not on a day, but in a person, a person whose name is Jesus. And so, we worship on Sunday because Jesus comes to fulfill the Sabbath. And so now what we’ve got is we’ve got a bit of a break between the New Testament followers of God and the Old Testament followers of God. If we understand our Bibles the way Jesus did, then when we read about the Sabbath commands in the Old Testament, we won’t see them as needing to be obeyed the way they were in the Old Testament. We will see them as needing to be obeyed the way Jesus tells us to obey them and the way Jesus fulfills them. And that is that Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath and that he becomes our rest. So, we’re going to do with the Sabbath, we’re going to do with our worship day what Jesus tells us to do, and Jesus disconnects the sacred day from Saturday, and he finds rest in a person.
2. Because of What Jesus Did, Not Just Who He is
What Jesus did is he said, as I mentioned a moment ago in Matthew chapter 12:8, that he is the Lord of the Sabbath. So, we do with the Sabbath what Jesus says to do. But he didn’t just say he was the Lord of the Sabbath as he disconnects the sacred day from Saturday. He did something very specific. And that is, he rose from the grave. And he didn’t rise from the grave on just any day; he rose from the grave on the first day of the week on Sunday. He says in Matthew 28:1, “Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary went to see the tomb.” And, of course, they find that it is empty. Sunday is the day of the Lord’s resurrection. And so, because Sunday is the day of the Lord’s resurrection, we want to celebrate that day in particular. And that’s not just a desire, but that gets to a third reason why we worship on Sunday.
3. Because this Was the Practice of the Early Church
And this is not even a matter just of historical observation. This is a matter of biblical revelation. In Acts 20:7, we read this, “On the first day of the week, on Sunday, when we were gathered together to break bread. Paul talked with them intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.” Now, what we’ve got is we’ve got Christians not gathering on the Sabbath day. When Christians get together on Saturday, it’s actually when they go to the synagogue to evangelize the Jews. But when Christians get together for their time, it is on Sunday, again, in celebration of the fact that Jesus rose on the first day. And so, you’ve got the Apostle Paul leading a worship service, they’re breaking bread and fellowshipping, and he’s preaching. He’s preaching till midnight, which will have many of you very thankful for your preacher’s sermon this Sunday, he’s unlikely to drag on until midnight, but that’s what the Apostle did. They filled up the first day of the week; they filled up Sunday with worship and fellowship and teaching and preaching. Another passage is in the last book of the Bible and Revelation 1:10, we read that John “was in the spirit on the Lord’s Day and he heard behind him a loud voice like a trumpet.” There, we have something significant happening in redemptive history. We have not just the early church, worshiping together as a matter of practice, in Acts 20. But here in the book of Revelation, the very last book of the New Testament, this is the final word for God’s people is that that day that first day of the week, is called the Lord’s Day. This is a day that is devoted to Jesus. To Jesus as the Lord of the Sabbath, to Jesus who disconnects the sacredness of a day of rest and emphasizes the sacredness of a person who gives us rest, he gives us rest by resurrecting from the grave on the first day of the week, the first Christians began to change their worship practice and celebrated that on the first day of the week, and by the end of the Bible, that first day of the week devoted to the Lord devoted to worship is called the Lord’s Day. And so, for those reasons, Christians worship on Sunday.