Jesus Kept the Sabbath!        

From the start the Jewish authorities never realised who Jesus was. His popularity soon became a threat to their position and authority, especially concerning how to observe the Sabbath. The trigger for this Sabbath emphasis began some 80 years after Judah returned to Jerusalem when Ezra began his ministry of teaching the Law and how to serve the Lord their God. They acknowledged that their exile was caused by ignoring God’s Commandments and also by failing to give the land a Sabbath rest every 7th year. (see Lev 251-7 and 2 Ch 3620-21)

Then others (the Hasmoneans) took on the task of teaching the law and soon the 4th Commandment was magnified beyond all recognition. They introduced the ‘Oral Law’ which included 1,500 laws defining what was or was not legal activity on the Sabbath! This is what the Pharisees demanded; but so often failed to practice themselves even in public. These ‘Oral laws’ were man made, not from God, so Jesus rightly ignored them. But he totally kept the 4th Commandment:
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour, 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, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.  Exd 208-11

There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the Lord.  Lev 233

If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord's holy day honourable, and if you honour it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord.  Is 5813,14

I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I the Lord made them holy.  Ezek 2012

This is what the LORD says: Be careful not to carry a load on the Sabbath day or bring it through the gates of Jerusalem. Do not bring a load out of your houses or do any work on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your forefathers.  Jer 1721,22

This did not forbid the rubbing out grain or having the compassion to heal.

Why were the deceived Pharisees so quick to criticise the Sabbath works of Jesus (or his disciples)?
They had no idea who he was.

1.  Jn 51-15
Criticism started one Sabbath at Bethesda in Jerusalem. Among the many disabled Jesus saw an invalid lying down hardly able to move. He asked if he wanted to get well. Then he simply told the man, “Pick up your mat and walk.” He obeyed immediately. The Pharisees were not thrilled that this man, lame for 38 years, could now walk. They only saw a Sabbath-breaker who had dared picked up his mat. They were totally unaware that it was the Son of God who had told him to do so and had healed him - not by doing any work, but just by his compassionate word of command.
The invalid did know who had healed him either - not until later when Jesus found him. He told him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”

2.  Lu 1310-17
As normal on the Sabbath Jesus was teaching in a synagogue where there was a woman who had been crippled and bent over by a spirit for 18 years. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. The synagogue ruler was indignant and said she should have come to be healed on one of the other 6 days, not on the Sabbath. The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”

3.  Math 121-8  Mk 223-28  Lu 61-5
On a Sabbath Jesus was walking through a corn field with his disciples who were hungry. So they picked a few heads of barley, rubbed them out and ate them. The watching Pharisees were quick to criticise the ‘work’ to Jesus. He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? ... Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

4.  Math 129-14  Mk 31-6  Lu 66-11
Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shrivelled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” This was not just critical, but they were actively seeking a way, any way, they might accuse and discredit Jesus.
Knowing this, he asked them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep!” This was just a rhetorical question, so he continued. “Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other.”

We are not told how the man, who was now employable, reacted.
But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.
Did the compassion and truth of Jesus merit murder?

5.  Jn 721-24
Jesus had been teaching in the Temple during the Feast and the Jews were amazed. They wondered that a carpenter from Nazareth could have such wisdom. Their wonderment was somewhat fickle and short-lived, for when Jesus told them, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. ... he who works for the honour of the one who sent him is a man of truth. ... Why are you trying to kill me? ... why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath?”
They had no answer. They would have to admit why they were angry, and then face admitting that they were wrong.

6.  Jn 91-41
It was another Jerusalem Sabbath. As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. It should be noted that one of the signs of the Messiah is that he would heal men not just blind, but born blind. Because they have never seen anything they have no concept of what sight means - only hearing, smell and feeling. Also to be healed the brain would have to instantly learn what all the retina images mean. A learning that takes a baby years.
The disciples asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Do such questioners imply the inverse, that those who see have not sinned? Jesus replied, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”
Definitely a case of ‘watch this space.’ Jesus spat on the ground, made some mud and put it on the blind man’s eyes. No one guessed that. Then he told him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. There were two problems: the One who sent him was not there when he returned with his sight. And this happened on the Sabbath!
Not surprisingly, the Pharisees made quite the wrong conclusion. “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”
When they asked the ex-blind man he said simply, “He is a prophet.”
So they checked with his parents. Yes, he is our son and he was blind. They said. Back to questioning the ex-blind man, who concluded, “If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” For this truth, they threw him out.
Later the man was found by Jesus. He discovered that it was not just ‘a prophet’ who had healed him, but the Son of Man. Jesus told him, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
And to the Pharisees he said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”
Thus it is that all men who refuse to admit that they are sinners are deceived, and the Cross of Christ is devoid of power to redeem. They are blind from birth.

7.  Lu 141-35
One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. Hardly the prerequisite of an unbiassed trial. Especially when they were equally careful to put right in front of him a man suffering from dropsy (build up of fluid). Realising their purpose Jesus asked them, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” No answer. So Jesus healed him and sent him away. Then he asked them a question to reveal their hypocrisy. “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?” And they had nothing to say.
Jesus warned them about the danger of seeking places of honour. He concluded the parable with, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Then he told them another story about being invited to the great banquet and followed it with the truth about the cost of being a disciple.
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

 
The Sabbath is intended to enable man to have a special day to walk with God and rejoice in his fantastic creation. It was designed to be a day that would delight and enrich the soul.

The Pharisees had little hunger for any real relationship with God. They liked to emphasise what they did or they didn’t do, instead of what God had done.

Jesus kept all the commandments of God perfectly - and that includes the 'extras'. "But I tell you that ..." in Math 521 - 625. He delighted to relieve pain, to heal and restore ‘broken’ men. To him compassion was a delight, not work.
He always did what he saw his Father doing. Jn 516-19  Together they healed.

[Top]