The Rabbis and leaders in Christ's day had made the Sabbath a burden for the people by enjoining upon the people countless rules and regulations which God did not require. For them, it was hard work and exhausting labor to try and serve the Sabbath the way that it was prescribed by those Jewish leaders.
Christ, in His message, "the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath," turns this on its head. Rather than abolishing the Sabbath, which Christ never did, He declared simultaneously both the love of God and the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders. God blessed the Sabbath and sanctified it, giving it unto man as a gift from the beginning. It was given to serve man; to provide man with rest and communion with God on a special day which He set apart and sanctified. He has set up the seventh day, and not another day, as a time of special communion with Himself, and He commands us to rest on that day for our benefit.
God didn't intend that the Sabbath should be a burden. We are not to serve the Sabbath, but the Sabbath is to be of service to us. We are not earning the favor of God by observing the Sabbath; but by receiving the gift that God gives us in honoring the seventh day, we are blessed by God. To refuse this is to refuse the gift and blessing that God is holding out for us to take freely if we so desire.
God is not an exacting taskmaster, but a loving God, who knows what is best for us and provides those things which are needful for our highest good. This is what Jesus was seeking to teach. In giving man the Sabbath, God was giving man that which was for his benefit, and not enjoining upon man some burden difficult to bear. The Rabbis did not understand this, and so they portrayed God to others as they saw Him themselves; harsh, overbearing, and dictatorial. In this they denied the God they professed to serve.
But Jesus showed the real meaning of the Sabbath, and it is the privilege of His people to observe this rest and receive the blessing that God is offering.
Thus says the LORD:
“Keep justice, and do righteousness,
For My salvation is about to come,
And My righteousness to be revealed.
Blessed is the man who does this,
And the son of man who lays hold on it;
Who keeps from defiling the Sabbath,
And keeps his hand from doing any evil.” ...
For thus says the LORD:
“To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths,
And choose what pleases Me,
And hold fast My covenant,
Even to them I will give in My house
And within My walls a place and a name
Better than that of sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
That shall not be cut off.
“Also the sons of the foreigner
Who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him,
And to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants—
Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath,
And holds fast My covenant—
Even them I will bring to My holy mountain,
And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
Will be accepted on My altar;
For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
“If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,
From doing your pleasure on My holy day,
And call the Sabbath a delight,
The holy day of the LORD honorable,
And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,
Nor finding your own pleasure,
Nor speaking your own words,
Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD;
And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,
And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.”