Healing On The Sabbath Day

Under the law of Moses, the seventh day of the week was to be a holy day. The Sabbath day was a foundation of the law made with Israel as a remembrance of their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 5:15; Exodus 31:16,17; Ezekiel 20) Jesus lived under the law of Moses and came in conflict with the Jewish leaders of his day over the Sabbath day.

Matthew records the conflict of Jesus and the Jewish leaders in Matthew 12. The Pharisees were upset that as the disciples of Jesus walked through a grain field, they plucked heads of grain to eat. They complained to Jesus that what the disciples had done was unlawful. His answer: "The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." (v8)

To show the authority of Christ, Jesus went into their synagogue and there was a man with a withered hand. Those gathered asked Jesus, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?" They were asking to accuse Him. Then He said to them, "What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." (Vv11,12) After Jesus healed the man's hand, the Pharisees went out and took counsel against Him, how they might destroy Him. (v14) See also Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:1-11. The Pharisees saw the power of Jesus healing the man's hand yet could not see His authority as the Christ.

Mark records in Mark 1:21-28 how Jesus healed a man with an unclean spirit on the Sabbath day. "Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.'" The people seemed to have a clear idea of Jesus healing as a sign of authority - even if He healed on the Sabbath day.

Luke records a most interesting story of Jesus healing on the Sabbath day. Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. A woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years was there. She was so bent over that she could in no way raise herself up. In compassion, Jesus healed her and she was made straight. Listen to what the ruler of the synagogue said: "There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day." (v14) Jesus calls him a "hypocrite" and puts them to shame for their unbelief.

John 5 records the healing of the lame man. "And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath." (v9) The Jews told him he could not carry his bed on the Sabbath day but he replied that the one who healed him told him to do so. Jesus accuses the Jews when He said: "If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath?" (John 7:23)

What Jesus proves by healing on the Sabbath day is His authority as Christ. "And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.'" (Mark 2:27-28) As Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus took the covenant of the Sabbath day away and it is no longer binding. (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:8-13) His authority to do so is found in His power to heal - even on the Sabbath. Christians do not keep the Sabbath. Paul writes in Colossians 2:16,17 - "So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ."

By: Kent Heaton

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