God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, which the people of Israel were required to uphold. Among the commandments, God required his people to observe the sabbath day and keep it holy. Fifth. The Israelites were forbidden from doing any work on this day. However, when Jesus came down to earth and started his ministry, the Law teachers accused him severely of not observing the sabbath day. This leads us to the question, “did Jesus’ work on the Sabbath?”
The Bible records several instances in which Jesus worked on the Sabbath day. Apart from teaching in the synagogues, which was allowed, Jesus healed several people who had been trapped in different types of sickness for years on the Sabbath day, something that angered the Pharisees and the religious leaders. However, Jesus informed those criticizing him that it was better to do good than evil on the sabbath day, as Luke 6:9 states.
So, what was considered work on Sabbath during Jesus’ time? Why did Jesus heal on the Sabbath? Why was it against the Law to heal on the Sabbath? Did Jesus break the Sabbath by performing miracles? What was the punishment for working on the Sabbath? What did Jesus say about the Sabbath? Should New Testament Christians observe the Sabbath? Read to the end to know the answers to these questions.
What was considered work on Sabbath during Jesus’ time?
Since the Sabbath day was given to the people of the Old Testament, it acted more as a covenant between the people and God, making it very special . There are a few things that the people of Israel were forbidden from practicing on the Sabbath day.
For Instance, God had commanded the people of Israel not to leave their homes for work on the Sabbath day but stay at home and have enough rest, as Exodus 16:29 notes. With this, the people were forbidden from going out to find food on the Sabbath day, as it was seen as work.
Additionally, God commands Jeremiah in chapter 17: 21-22 to tell his people not to carry any load on the Sabbath day, which involves not carrying anything out of the gates of Jerusalem, or out of their house. This scripture shows that carrying any load was considered work on the Sabbath day.
The third activity that was also considered work on the Sabbath day was lighting a fire in the Israelites’ home. God warned against that, as stated in the book of Exodus 35:3. Ploughing or harvesting was also considered to work on the Sabbath day and was not to be practiced until the next day. This is recorded in Exodus 34:21.
By the time Jesus was coming to earth, the Pharisees and the teacher of the Law had added several rules regarding what not to do on the sabbath day, as they put their focus on the outward adherence to the Law instead of the true purpose that God had intended the Sabbath day for. According to the Pharisees, other activities considered work were shopping, cooking, baking, doing laundry, moving anything with your hand, engaging in a business transaction, or plucking out fruits on a Sabbath day.
Why did Jesus heal on the Sabbath?
Jesus healed on the Sabbath day because he was the Lord of the Sabbath and therefore had the authority to do what he saw fit on the Sabbath day. Additionally, Jesus healed on the Sabbath day because he noted that the Sabbath day was created to benefit human beings and not the other way around. Healing the sick or the disabled on the Sabbath day was making them well, a positive thing for their lives. Another possibility that Jesus may have healed on the Sabbath day was that he could not stand to see the pain and agony of people and not be compassionate towards them just because it was the Sabbath day.
Why was it against the Law to heal on the Sabbath?
No scripture in the Bible shows that healing on the Sabbath day was a sin. This ‘unnecessary’ rule had been put up by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, as they always wanted to be seen as the most superior and more powerful than anyone else. By forbidding healing on the Sabbath day, the religious leaders knew that Jesus would most likely heal someone on the sabbath day, making him a breaker of the Law. This would then allow them to accuse him, eventually killing him as they were jealous of him.
Did Jesus break the Sabbath by performing miracles?
Jesus did not break the Sabbath by performing his miracles. There is no way that he would have broken the Mosaic Law, as he had come to fulfill the Law. We see him in Mathew 5:17, revealing that he did not come to do away with any of Moses’ laws and teachings but had come to make them true.
Since we have seen that the Sabbath was made for the good of human beings, as stated in Mark 2:27, Jesus could not have been breaking it by performing miracles, as these miracles benefited whoever was receiving them.
What was the punishment for working on the Sabbath?
Working on a Sabbath day was considered among the deadliest acts a person could commit. The punishment for this was severe, as the person was required to be stoned to death. Exodus 35:2 says, “you have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day, a solemn day of rest dedicated to me, the Lord. Anyone who does any work on that day is to be put to death.” The punishment for working on the Sabbath death was grave because this was a covenant between the people and God, and whoever went against it was disrespecting God and breaking their covenant with them.
What did Jesus say about the Sabbath?
Jesus said a few things concerning the Sabbath day. In Mark 2:27, we see Jesus telling the Pharisees that the Sabbath was made for the good of human beings and that human beings were not made for the Sabbath. Additionally, in verse 28, Jesus goes ahead to state that, therefore, he was the Lord of the Sabbath. With this, Jesus assured others that it was okay to do good to others on the sabbath day, as they would not be breaking the Law.
Additionally, in the book of Mark 3:4, Jesus indirectly says it is okay to be good on the Sabbath day rather than evil. Jesus said this after the people around him wanted to accuse him of doing wrong by healing the man with the paralyzed hand on a Sabbath day.
Should New Testament Christians observe the Sabbath?
Christians in the New Testament are no longer required to observe the Sabbath day, as the commandment was given long ago as a covenant between God and the Israelites. Christians are not required to observe it, as Jesus only requires them to accept him and believe in God.
Christians who want to observe this day are not restricted from doing it as long as they have convinced themselves that it is okay. Those who choose not to observe it are not any less from being the children of God, so long as they are righteous.
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.