“The Sabbath was made for people.” God gave the Sabbath to Israel as a blessing so that people might have time to rest, and also so that the Israelites would remember that it was Yahweh who brought them out of the slavery of Egypt (Deut. 15:5), which would help them praise Him on the Sabbath day. Yet the religious leaders had gradually made the Sabbath regulations so oppressive that the Sabbath was often more of a burden than a blessing. God simply said not to “work,” but the religious leaders so tightly defined with ungodly restrictions what “work” was (and then figured out for themselves ways around their regulations), that people became slaves to the Sabbath, instead of the Sabbath being a blessing and servant to people. The Sabbath regulations became part of “the yoke of the Law,” and that harsh yoke was done away in Christ. The New Testament is clear that people do not have to keep the Sabbath (Col. 2:14-17).
[For more on the Sabbath, see commentary on Exod. 20:10.]
“people.” Although many versions have “man,” that must be properly understood. The Greek is anthropos, which is being used in the generic sense of humankind or “people,” not a man, a male. An easy way to tell that is that the Greek word is singular, but the verse is certainly not saying that the Sabbath was made for one individual male person. The Sabbath was given so people could have a day of rest. Even slaves were to be allowed to rest on the Sabbath and not be forced to work (Exod. 20:10).