Sabbath Keeping – Part II – The New Testament

Today we are going to look at Jesus’ treatment of the Sabbath.

At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; (Matthew 12:1a)

We already have a problem here, don’t we? He is travelling on the Sabbath.

and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. (Matthew 12:1b )

But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. (Matthew 12:2 )

But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; (Matthew 12:3)

How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? (Matthew 12:4)

Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? (Matthew 12:5)

What does Jesus mean, “They are vblameless?”

They kindle a fire, they carry firewood in, they cut the throats of animals, they do things that are a violation of the Sabbath, and are blameless.

Jesus’ argument is that there were exceptions to the Sabbath Keeping in the Old Testament to and God permitted the exceptions. There were exceptions to the laws and God permitted the exceptions. The Pharisees would have to agree with Jesus since they knew what about those exceptions.

Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? (Matthew 12:5)

But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. (Matthew 12:6)

So, He is arguing from authority here. Something that is in more authority than the law and the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day. (Matthew 12:7-8)

That is pretty bold. His disciples are breaking the Sabbath and He tells them there are exceptions to the Sabbath and there is something greater than the Sabbath and He is standing here right in front of you. “I am Lord, even of the Sabbath Day”.

That was pretty much blasphemy to the Pharisees. People have been put to death for many centuries for violating the Sabbath and He is standing in front of them and saying that they (his disciples) can violate it because I am Lord of it (the sabbath).

That was a terrible shock to the Pharisees and this was the kind of thing that ultimately got Jesus put to death.

In Mark 2:27, Jesus adds to this when He says, “The sabbath was made for man and not man for the sabbath, therefore the Son of Man is also, Lord of the Sabbath.”

In John 5:8, He commands a man to take up his bed and walk in violation of the Sabbath. There was a prohibition against the law of carrying any kind of burden and they get upset and angry at Him because he commanded a man to get up and carry his bed on the Sabbath.

Jesus never preached a sermon and made any big deal over the Sabbath. And Jesus never kept the Sabbath day the way it was supposed to be kept. So then, in the strictest sense, according to the law, He never kept the Sabbath Day. He would have been stoned if He was living in Old Testament times. Actually, until His death, He was living in OT times and they did want to stone Him. Even though Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are part of the New Testament in the Bible (our book), it is really still the Old Testament era. The New Testament did not start until Jesus died and was resurrected and the Church was born.

Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? (John 10:32)

You will notice when you read the Scriptures that every occurrence in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, where Jesus healed on the Sabbath, the Pharisees sought to accuse Him of breaking the Sabbath. Even the witnesses of Jesus’ time say that He did not keep the Sabbath. Take a look in John 9:16a.

John 9:16a Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day.

There are those who will tell you that He kept the Sabbath and so should we, but the Scriptures reveal that when it came to the Laws of the Sabbath, He constantly broke them. The fact that He went up to the synagogue on the Sabbath does not mean that He kept the Sabbath, it just means He knew where the Jews would be and it would be a good opportunity to preach to them.

Let’s close with this verse, again.

But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.

Not only is He Lord of the sabbath day, but He is our Sabbath Day…everyday. He is our Sabbath-Rest, wherein we have ceased from our own labors (works of righteousness). We will cover this more, later.

Part III we will cover what the Apostle’s treatment of the Sabbath was.

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