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Christ and the Sabbath


Maker and Keeper of the Sabbath


Of what did Christ say the Son of Man is Lord?


“For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:8. (See also Mark 2:28.)


Who made the Sabbath?


‘Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”

John 1:3. [Christ, the Word] 


Note – Christ is the creative agent of the Godhead.


Did Christ, while on earth, keep the Sabbath?


“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.” Luke 4:16. 


Note – It has been noted that during Jesus Christ life on Earth he kept 777 Sabbath days.


Debate on How to Keep the Sabbath


Although Lord, Maker, and an observer of the Sabbath, how was He watched and spied upon on this day?


“The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath.” Luke 6:7.


How did Christ meet their false ideas of Sabbath keeping?


“Then Jesus said to them, I ask you which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or do evil, to save or to destroy?” Verse 9. 


How did they manifest their displeasure at His healing the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath?


“But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do with Jesus.” Verse 11. “Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.” Mark 3:6. 


Note – Although the miracle Christ performed had given evidence that He was from God, they were angry because He had shown their views on the Sabbath keeping to be wrong. Wounded pride, obstinacy, and malice, therefore combined to fill them with madness, and they went out immediately and held counsel with the Herodians – their political enemies – for the purpose of accomplishing His death.


Because Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath day and told him to take up his bed and walk, what did the Jews do?


“So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him.”

John 5:16.  [Persecuted or to kill Jesus]


Note – It is noteworthy that not the least of the malice that finally caused His crucifixion was engendered over this very question of the Sabbath observance. Christ did not keep the Sabbath according to their ideas, and so they sought to kill Him. Many today cherish this same spirit. Because some do not agree with their ideas of the Sabbath, or Sabbath observance, they seek to persecute and oppress them and seek laws, and alliances with political powers, to compel respect for their own views.


How did Jesus answer them?


“Jesus said unto them, My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” Verse 17. 


Note – The ordinary operations of nature, as manifested in God’s almighty, upholding, beneficent, and healing power, go on during the Sabbath. To cooperate with God and nature in the work of healing on the Sabbath cannot, therefore, be out of harmony with God’s law. 


What effect did this answer have upon the Jews?


For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his Father, making himself equal with God.”

Verse 18.    


Because the disciples plucked a few heads of grain on the Sabbath day to satisfy hunger, what did the Pharisees say?


“The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

Mark 2:24.


What was Christ’s reply?


“He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for the priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Verses 25-27.  

What was said of Christ’s healing a woman one Sabbath?


“Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” Luke 13:14.


What was Christ’s answer?


‘The Lord answered him, You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall to 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?” Verses 15,16.


What effect did Christ’s answers have upon the people?


“When he said this, all the opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.” Verse 17.


How did Christ justify acts of mercy on the Sabbath?


“He said to 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! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:11,12.


What dispute did Christ’s miracles cause?


“Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?” So they were divided.” John 9:6. 


Note – By these miracles God was setting the seal of approval to Christ’s views and teachings respecting the Sabbath and to His manner of observing it, thus condemning the narrow and false views of the Pharisees. Hence the division. 


Jesus magnifies the Sabbath


According to Isaiah, what was Christ to do with the law?


“It pleased the Lord for the sake of his righteousness to make his laws great and glorious.” Isaiah 42:21.


Note – In nothing, perhaps, was this more strikingly fulfilled than in the manner of the Sabbath observance. By their numerous traditional regulations and senseless restrictions the Jews made the Sabbath a burden, and anything but a delight. Christ removed all of these, and by His life teachings restored the Sabbath to its proper place as a day of worship, of contemplation of God, a day for doing acts of charity and mercy. Thus He magnified it and made it honorable. One of the most prominent features of Christ’s ministry was this work of Sabbath reform. Christ did not abolish or change the Sabbath; but he did rescue it from the rubbish of tradition, false ideas, and superstitions by which it had been degraded. The Pharisees had placed the institution above man and against man.   Christ reversed the order, and said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” He showed that it was to minister to the happiness and well-being of both man and beast.


In view of the coming destruction and desolation of the city of Jerusalem, for what did Christ tell His disciples to pray?


“Pray that your flight will not take place in the winter or on the Sabbath.” Matthew 24:20.  


Note - Christ is here speaking of the flight of the apostles and other Christians out of Jerusalem and Judea, just before the final destruction, as is manifest by the whole context, and especially by the sixteenth verse: ‘Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains.’ But the final destruction of Jerusalem was after the dissolution of the Jewish constitution, and after the Christians dispensation was fully set up. Yet it was plainly implied in those words of the Lord, that even then Christians were bound to a strict observation of the Sabbath.

The Great Teacher never intimated that the Sabbath was a ceremonial ordinance to cease with the Mosaic ritual, instead of anticipating its extinction along with the other ceremonial law; He speaks of its existence after the downfall of Jerusalem.   


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