Jesus and the Sabbath


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Jesus and the Sabbath

  1. 1. Luke 6:1-11 Jesus and the Sabbath
  2. 2. CONTEXT Luke records five criticisms in a row from the Pharisees with two of them claiming a violation of the Sabbath.
  3. 3. CONTEXT Questions about fasting and the Sabbath arose early in Christ’s ministry (see Luke 5:33-35). It seems as though the disciples of John the Baptist joined the Pharisees in asking Jesus questions about fasting. Mark suggests that the questions were asked on one of the fasting days observed by both the disciples of John and the Pharisees (Mark 2:18).
  4. 4. CONTEXT The Sabbath existed even before the law was given at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19). When the Lord provided manna for the Israelites to eat in the wilderness, he instructed them to collect a double portion of manna on the sixth day, so that no one would have to work for food on the seventh (Exodus 16:1-26).
  5. 5. CONTEXT The Jews were taught to ―remember the Sabbath‖ and thus keep it holy. The Sabbath was intended as a day of rest and worship, a time to remember that God ceased his work of creation on the seventh day. The Bible does not give complete guidelines for what is to be considered work on the Sabbath.
  6. 6. CONTEXT The principle of Sabbath-rest finds its most important expression as the fourth of the Ten Commandments, and it is the longest one in both Exodus 20:8–11 and Deuteronomy 5:12–15. To ―remember‖ the Sabbath was to keep it holy. It was to be a day of rest, a cessation from all normal work activities. To work on this day was to break the Sabbath. Violators were subject to the death penalty (Exodus 31:12–17).
  7. 7. CONTEXT Two Sabbath events involving Jesus are found in this Gospel prior to chapter 6. Luke 4:16 records Jesus teaching in the Nazareth synagogue, attending the synagogue on Saturday, "as his custom was." In verse 31, we find Him teaching in the Capernaum synagogue on the Sabbath, amazing the people with His power and by casting out an unclean spirit.
  8. 8. CONTEXT The two encounters in today’s lesson involve issues of the Sabbath day. Sabbath is a Hebrew word meaning ―rest‖ or ―cease.‖ This fact is fundamental for understanding God’s requirements for Sabbath-keeping. Instructions regarding the Sabbath (the seventh day of the week) form a central component to the system of law of ancient Israel.
  9. 9. CONTEXT The study's aim is to reveal how certain traditions can become more sacred to us than the Word of God and to show us that God's Word can stand on its own and does not need man's rules added to it. The study's application is to see God's rationale for giving the Sabbath Day to man.
  10. 10. CONTEXT There is more to the Sabbath than Jesus' opponents understood. There is more to Jesus than they understood. The Sabbath was and is a sign between Israel and God. It stands for rest in God's power. Only Jesus truly understood what the Sabbath was all about, and He left us an enduring lesson.
  11. 11. Luke 6:1-5 One Sabbath while Jesus was going through the grain fields, his disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and gave some to his companions?” Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”
  12. 12. Luke 6:1-5 As Jesus’ ―Sermon on the Plain‖ (Luke 6:20-49) indicates, many of Jesus’ disciples and followers were from among the poor. Not all were poor from the beginning; some, such as Peter, were fishermen. Matthew was a tax collector. Jesus did not feed His disciples miraculously every day by multiplying loaves and fishes. Instead, they all lived with total dependence on God the Father to meet their daily needs (as Jesus taught them to pray in the Lord’s Prayer: ―Give us this day our daily bread‖).
  13. 13. Luke 6:1-5 As Jesus’ hungry disciples walked through a grain field, they plucked some heads of grain and rubbed away the chaff which would blow away in the wind and ate the grain.
  14. 14. Luke 6:1-5 ―Some,‖ not all of the Pharisees, condemned Jesus’ disciples for doing something their traditions made unlawful as they interpreted the ceremonial law under the Old Covenant (the Old Testament ceremonial law; not the Old Testament moral law; which was summed up in the commands to love God and your neighbor). According to their interpretation of Moses’ law, Jesus’ disciples were committing a sin on the Sabbath.
  15. 15. Luke 6:1-5 The disputes between Jesus and the Pharisees over the Sabbath concerned additional rules about what was forbidden on the Sabbath. The rabbis themselves called the Sabbath rules they devised "mountains hanging by a hair" of evidence (Mishnah Hagigah 1:8). In other words, the rabbis themselves believed their interpretation of Sabbath rules was strictly a guess and not a biblical requirement.
  16. 16. Luke 6:1-5 The "corn fields" in Luke 6:1 (and anywhere else in the Bible) were either barley or wheat fields ("corn" in British English is a general word for grain). The husk around each seed of wheat or barley can be removed by rubbing it between two hands. The uncooked seeds are edible and nutritious. It was not considered theft to pick for one's immediate needs: "When you come into the standing corn of thy neighbor, then thou may pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbor’s standing corn" (Deut. 23:25).
  17. 17. Luke 6:1-5 The disputes Jesus had with the Pharisees on this matter do not concern overturning the Sabbath law of the Bible as a requirement for Jews. The Sabbath was and remains today a sign between God and the Jewish people (Exod. 31:13).
  18. 18. Luke 6:1-5 We should beware of traditions based on principles of the world (Col 2:8) See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
  19. 19. Luke 6:1-5 Jesus explained that His companions (His disciples) were hungry and that justified their eating the grain in the grain field on the Sabbath. Some of the Pharisees interpreted the ceremonial Law of Moses as forbidding any harvesting and threshing on the Sabbath, and that meant Jesus’ disciples had broken the Sabbath by simply feeding themselves as they followed Jesus in a time of need.
  20. 20. Luke 6:1-5 Jesus replied to these Pharisees that His disciples had done what they did because they were hungry, just as David fed his companions the ceremonial bread reserved for priests because they were hungry. Jesus explained that He was allowing His hungry disciples to violate their interpretation of the ceremonial law of the Sabbath in order for Him to feed them. Jesus could have worked a miracle to feed them, but He chose not to do so, because He needed to show what His disciples (or anyone else) could do whenever they were hungry.
  21. 21. Luke 6:1-5 The Pharisees had been observing Jesus, watching for Him to make a mistake that they could publicly criticize. They had accused Him of allowing His disciples to break the Sabbath (by their interpretation). Jesus typically answered criticism with riddles and by suggesting interpretations that were beyond the skill of His critics.
  22. 22. Luke 6:1-5 Jesus explained that for David to feed his hungry companions in a time of real need, he had fed them ceremonial bread meant only for the priests to eat. The physical necessity of David’s companions and Jesus’ disciples made it appropriate to feed them bread set apart for ceremonial use. Because of David’s honored position among all the Jews, the Pharisees could not condemn David for his actions; instead, they justified what David did. The Old Testament also shows that God did not condemn David for his actions when he needed to feed his companions.
  23. 23. Luke 6:1-5 Then, Jesus must have startled them when He referred to himself using the Messianic title ―Son of Man,‖ and claimed before these Pharisees that He was ―Lord of the Sabbath.‖ Then Jesus proclaimed Himself Lord of the Sabbath, a statement that claimed deity, for it certainly was God who established the day.
  24. 24. Luke 6:1-5 The use of that example from Scripture was apropos and seems to have been chosen to communicate that since it was fine for David and his men, it should also be fine for the Son of David and His men to meet their needs on the Sabbath. Though not explicit in the Samuel text, it is quite likely the incident occurred on a Sabbath Day. Jesus claimed the right of God’s Messiah to set aside the Old Covenant ceremonial laws and the Pharisees’ interpretations of these ceremonial laws in order to achieve higher purposes and eventually fulfill the law of God. In Mark 2:27, Jesus explained: ―The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.‖ God gave people the Sabbath for their benefit.
  25. 25. Luke 6:1-5 Two ways of observing the Sabbath are on display in Luke 6:6-7. The way of Jesus is teaching and healing. In the synagogue He observed the Sabbath according to the customs of His people, focusing on the words of God in Scripture. He was also observing the Sabbath with the intention of doing good deeds, the work of God in the world.
  26. 26. Luke 6:6-10 On another Sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. (7) The scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would cure on the Sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. (8) Even though he knew what they were thinking, he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” He got up and stood there. (9) Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?” (10) After looking around at all of them, he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was restored.
  27. 27. Luke 6:6-10 These scribes and Pharisees planned evil—to accuse Jesus and get Him into some kind of trouble when He went down to Jerusalem. Jesus planned good—to teach and to heal a man with a disability. Jesus' lesson was pointed and simple: merely keeping the form of a command does not make one righteous.
  28. 28. Luke 6:6-10 In describing what happens on another Sabbath, Luke does not specifically identify this as the very next Saturday. But we are to understand that this particular incident follows closely after the grain-plucking confrontation. We also are not told which synagogue this is, but the one in Capernaum is as good a candidate as any (Luke 4:31). The critics of Jesus seem to have a readymade opportunity to embarrass Him— they even may have set it up themselves.
  29. 29. Luke 6:6-10 Jesus came into the world to save sinners and help people in a variety of ways. As Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus demonstrated the types of things He and His followers could lawfully do on the Sabbath. They could love their neighbors and meet their needs on the Sabbath whenever they had the opportunity. In many cases, they might be leaving a town or synagogue after a short visit and could not reasonably say to someone, ―Wait until tomorrow to get the help you need today.‖
  30. 30. Luke 6:6-10 The New Covenant in His blood opened the door for all of His followers to love and serve God and others seven days a week without regard to the Old Covenant ceremonial laws, but Jesus never used His authority as Lord of the Sabbath to teach that people can use the Sabbath in selfish and self-centered ways that dishonor God or harm others or themselves. On this Sabbath day, the scribes and Pharisees did not go to listen to Him to learn of God or to praise God on the Sabbath. They gathered in the synagogue to find a reason to harm Jesus, not to think about the truth of God.
  31. 31. Luke 6:6-10 We should be doing good for others by being sensitive to needs especially when it is in our power to provide (Prov 3:27)27 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.
  32. 32. Luke 6:6-10 Jesus took every day seriously as a day for honoring God and helping others. He did not interpret the Sabbath ceremonial law as strictly as possible in order to be certain that He was obeying the Pharisees’ ―letter of the law‖ without consideration for the ―spirit (or God’s intention) of the law.‖ As the Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus used the Sabbath as a day to truly love God and His neighbors. Jesus knew that these religious leaders were intent on trapping Him so they could do away with Him and His followers; still, Jesus called the man with the withered hand forward so He could do good and heal him. Jesus did what was right even when others did not want Him to violate their traditions.
  33. 33. Luke 6:6-10 It is possible that this condition causes social problems for the man, for the right hand is used for eating while the left hand is ―the bathroom hand‖; this is consistent with the Bible’s depiction of the right hand as being the one of greater honor (Genesis 48:13, 14; Luke 20:42; 22:69; Galatians 2:9; etc.). The man’s disability may serve to exclude him from social gatherings that involve communal eating; such functions involve taking food from a common dish with the right hand, something this man may be unable to do.
  34. 34. Luke 6:6-10 Jesus knew that He wanted to do the right thing and save others no matter what the personal cost, even at a sacrificial personal cost. Jesus spoke to their conscience so they would need to choose who was right: themselves who wanted to harm Jesus or Jesus who wanted to heal those who were sick. Of course, these religious leaders did not answer Jesus, but kept watching Him so they could accuse Him of some sinful behavior according to their interpretations of the Sabbath law. He knew that these leaders or others like them would eventually seek to have Him crucified and succeed in crucifying Him.
  35. 35. Luke 6:6-10 We can easily believe that He looked with compassion on the one He planned to heal and also on the family and friends of the man with the withered hand. Jesus did not need to touch the man or say any ―magic words‖ to heal him. Jesus simply said to the man, ―Stretch out your hand.‖ Jesus’ method of healing the man demonstrated that he was healed by God when he believed and obeyed Jesus’ command. Jesus gave the religious leaders ample evidence that the man’s healing was an act of Almighty God through Jesus.
  36. 36. Luke 6:6-10 We should remember that God created us to do good works (Eph. 2:10) For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
  37. 37. Luke 6:11 But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
  38. 38. Luke 6:11 Though Jesus had spoken to their conscience and had given them reasons to reconsider their intentions and repent of their sins, these religious leaders had so hardened their conscience (or hearts) that they would not even consider the facts that Jesus’ teachings and miracles proved that He was the Son of Man, the promised Messiah, the Lord of the Sabbath, and a Prophet approved by God. Instead, Jesus’ good deeds and healing of the sick man so infuriated them that in their hearts they wanted to harm Jesus even more – even on the Sabbath.
  39. 39. CONCLUSIONS Contemporary, observant Jews still assert that all "of these tasks are prohibited, as well as any task that operates by the same principle or has the same purpose. In addition, the rabbis have prohibited handling any implement that is intended to perform one of the above purposes (for example, a hammer, a pencil or a match)"
  40. 40. CONCLUSIONS Because of the Sabbath prohibitions, observant Jews carefully prepare for it. All food preparation is done in advance so that nothing is made on the Sabbath. Washing of clothes should be done on Thursday, with bathing on Friday afternoon, along with cleaning the house and setting the table. "It is customary in Jewish communities to signal or announce the arrival of the Sabbath half an hour or an hour in advance, so that people can stop working and complete their preparations"
  41. 41. CONCLUSIONS Today there are differing opinions and convictions as to what is allowable and what is not on the Lord's Day. It is often pointed out that the commandment concerning the Sabbath is the only one of the ten that is not repeated in some form in the New Testament, thereby granting liberty in that regard.
  42. 42. CONCLUSIONS There is a reason that both Mark and Luke precede these episodes with the parable of new wine. As new wine needed new wineskins, so Jesus' teaching required a new mind-set. Christians need to continually search the Scriptures and make God's Word the basis for their decisions.
  43. 43. CONCLUSIONS When we listen to the still, small voice inside of us that urges us to step outside of our traditions to bring about freedom for the captive, healing for the infirm, and peace for the oppressed, we may be labeled as rebels. We may endure scorn and shame; nevertheless, what is our reputation compared to the eternal destiny of a soul?
  44. 44. CONCLUSIONS This account was designed to reveal how certain traditions can become more sacred to us than the Word of God. This account also shows that God's Word can stand on its own and does not need man's rules added to it.
  45. 45. LESSONS God's people were required to provide food for the hungry; we should likewise care for the poor (Luke 6:1; cf. Deut. 23:25) The spirit of the law leads us to praise God (Luke 6:3-4; cf. I Sam. 21:1-6)
  46. 46. LESSONS Self-righteous people are always enforcing rules that enable them to condemn others (Luke 6:2) We humans tend to look for opportunities to criticize other people (vss. 6-7)
  47. 47. LESSONS Believers in Jesus have many opportunities to honor Him by doing good —though sometimes at great personal cost (vss. 8-11)