In the Old Testament, the Sabbath day was a special day that was held in high regard, as no one was to be found doing any work on that day. However, in the New Testament, we see various instances in which Jesus worked on Sabbath day by healing the sick. This leads most bible readers to wonder, “did Jesus keep the Sabbath?”
Jesus kept the Sabbath according to the Bible and what God had commanded people before him to do on the Sabbath day. Jesus kept it clear in the book of Mark 2:27 that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. If we interpret this scripture, we see that whatever Jesus did on the sabbath day, apart from preaching and teaching, was for the benefit of different people for whom the Sabbath had been created.
So, does the Bible say Jesus kept the Sabbath? Why did the Pharisees accuse Jesus of breaking the Sabbath? Why did Jesus heal on a Sabbath if it was against the Law? What was the punishment for breaking the Sabbath during Jesus’ time? Did Jesus’ disciples keep the Sabbath after Jesus’ ascension? Is keeping the Sabbath still part of God’s commandments? What does keeping the Sabbath look like in the New Testament? Should Christians keep the Sabbath today? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and more.
Does the Bible say Jesus kept the Sabbath?
The Bible records Jesus keeping the Sabbath, as he spent most of his Sabbath day teaching and preaching the gospel of the Kingdom. For instance, Jesus is seen teaching in the synagogue one Sabbath in his hometown in Mark 6:2.
Additionally, Jesus kept the Sabbath by healing all sick, arguing that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath. The book of Mathew 12: 9-12 records an instance in which Jesus entered the synagogue and healed a man with a shrivelled hand. The Pharisees condemned him and even questioned whether healing on a sabbath day was lawful.
Responding to them, Jesus revealed that it was okay to do good on the Sabbath day, as it cannot be considered breaking the Sabbath law.
Why did the Pharisees accuse Jesus of breaking the Sabbath?
The Pharisees accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath as they sought any reason to claim charges against him. God’s initial command to his people regarding the Sabbath was to make sure they use the day to rest as they remember him. This was to be a particular day, as God rested on the seventh day after creating the creation for six days.
However, by the time Jesus started his ministry, the Pharisees and the teachers of the LawLaw had added their own unnecessary rules regarding the Sabbath, which they expected Jesus to keep them. Jesus revealed to them that the Sabbath day had been put for man. Therefore it was okay to carry out any practice that would benefit people without basing on useless rules that they had added to God’s command.
Additionally, the Pharisees accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath, as they feared that he would take their place in people’s lives, making them irrelevant. This is why they started plotting ways to kill him but did not succeed until his designated time was reached.
Why did Jesus heal on a Sabbath if it was against the Law?
According to the Bible, Jesus did not heal one time on the Sabbath but did that on several occasions. Examples in which Jesus healed on Sabbath day include the healing of Simon’s mother who had a fever in Mark 1:29-31, the recovery of the man with a withered hand as Mark 3:1-6 records, the healing of a disabled woman in Luke 13:10-17, and many other instances.
With all these healings, one may wonder why Jesus felt so comfortable with healing on the sabbath day, which was indeed against the Law. There are several reasons why Jesus chose to heal the sick on the sabbath day. The first main reason why Jesus healed on a sabbath day is that all the people he healed were in dire need of help, and there is no way he could have postponed their healing to the next day just because it was on a Sabbath day. As already stated, the sabbath day was made for the benefit of man, and therefore by healing the sick, they were benefiting from it.
Jesus also healed on the sabbath day to expose the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. At one time, Jesus healed a woman whose spirit had been crippled for eighteen years on a Sabbath day and was called out by the synagogue leader.
Calling out their hypocrisy, Jesus questioned them why it was okay for them to take their animals out to eat or drink water but not reveal someone’s burden that they have been staying with for that long. The Pharisees were embarrassed because they knew no Sabbath Law forbade people from being healed.
What was the punishment for breaking the Sabbath during Jesus’ time?
Since the Sabbath day was regarded as a covenant between God and his people, the breaking of the Sabbath day was regarded as a deadly offense, and its punishment was death. During Jesus’ time, most Jews kept the Mosaic Law, which called a person to be put to death if he was found doing any work.
Exodus 35:2-3 says, “for six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of Sabbath rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death. Do not light a fire in your dwellings on the sabbath day.” From the above scripture, the sabbath day was considered more sacred, and anyone defiled. It was deemed disobedient to God.
Did Jesus’ disciples keep the Sabbath after Jesus’ ascension?
Jesus’ disciples must have most likely to have kept the sabbath day even after Jesus ascended into heaven, as there is no record of them in the scripture revealing they went against the Sabbath. For instance, Apostle Paul continued to keep the Sabbath and even confessed that he worshipped the God of his fathers and followed everything written in the book of LawLaw, as stated in Acts 23:9.
Luke also records in Acts 16:13 their encounter with a woman named Lydia on a Sabbath day, meaning that they were somehow from observing the Sabbath day before they headed outside the city gate to the river, where they had expected to find a place to pray.
Is keeping the Sabbath still part of God’s commandments?
Keeping the Sabbath is still not part of God’s commandments to modern Christians, as God’s command on the Sabbath was directed to the people of Israelites as a Mosaic covenant with them. After the coming of Jesus Christ on earth, Christians are no longer required to keep the Sabbath just because God commanded them to, but to reflect on the Lord’s goodness as they nourish their spirituality.
Additionally, keeping the Sabbath is seen as a more spiritual freedom to observe it rather than it being seen as a commandment from God. Romans 14:5 explains that it is okay for one person to treat one day as sacred and the other to treat all days as holy as they all belong to the Lord, no matter their choice.
What does keeping the Sabbath look like in the New Testament?
Keeping the Sabbath in the New Testament is living your everyday life just as God intended you to. To save the sabbath day is to set apart a day of your choice to worship God, which most churches do on Sunday. Additionally, keeping the Sabbath in the New Testament focuses more on the people’s wellness rather than on doing good or evil in the name of keeping the Sabbath. Jesus clearly said the Sabbath was meant for man and not man for the Sabbath.
Should Christians keep the Sabbath today?
Christians should allow the Sabbath day if they have been fully convinced in their minds. Those Christians who choose not to observe the sabbath day should not be judged, as God sees them as equal before him.
Christians are not also forced to keep the Sabbath today, as we see in Acts 15:19-20, the apostles failing to mention it as one of the commandments of God. By ruling this commandment and giving the rest to the gentiles, the apostles showed that it is not a sin not to keep the sabbath day.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.