Saviour kept the Sabbath, and taught His disciples to keep it. He knew
how it should be kept, for He Himself had made it holy.
The Bible says, "Remember the Sabbath
day, to keep it holy." "The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy
God." "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all
that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed
the Sabbath day, and hallowed it." Exodus 20:8, 10, 11; 31:16, 17.
Christ had worked with His Father in creating the earth, and He had made
the Sabbath. The Bible says that "all things were made by Him." John
When we look on the sun and the stars,
the trees and the beautiful flowers, we should remember that Christ made
them all. And He made the Sabbath to help us keep in mind His love and
The Jewish teachers had made many rules
about the way to keep the Sabbath, and they wanted every one to obey
their rules. So they watched the Saviour, to see what He would do.
One Sabbath, as Christ and His disciples
were going home from the synagogue, they passed through a field of
grain. It was late, and the disciples were hungry. So they broke off
some of the heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate the
On any other day, one passing through a
field or an orchard was allowed to gather what he wanted to eat. But it
was not so on the Sabbath. Christ's enemies saw what the disciples were
doing, and they said to the Saviour:
"Behold, Thy disciples do that which is
not lawful to do upon the Sabbath day." Matthew 12:2.
But Christ defended His followers. He
reminded His accusers of David, who, when in need, had eaten of the
sacred bread of the tabernacle, and had given it to his hungry
If it was right for David when hungry to
eat this sacred bread, then was it not right for the disciples when
hungry to pluck the grain on the sacred hours of the Sabbath?
The Sabbath was not made to be a burden
to man. It was to do him good, to give him peace and rest. Therefore our
Lord said, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath."
"And it came to pass also on another
Sabbath, that He entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a
man whose right hand was withered.
"And the scribes and Pharisees watched
Him, whether He would heal on the Sabbath day; that they might find an
accusation against Him.
"But He knew their thoughts, and said to
the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the
midst. And he arose and stood forth.
"Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask
you one thing; Is it lawful on the Sabbath days to do good, or to do
evil? to save life, or to destroy it?"
"And when He had looked round about on
them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, He
saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out:
and his hand was restored whole as the other."
"And they were filled with madness; and
communed one with another what they might do to Jesus." Luke 6:6-9, 11;
The Saviour showed how unreasonable they
were, by asking them a question. "And He said unto them, What man shall
there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit
on the Sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?"
This they could not answer. So He said,
"How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to
do well on the Sabbath days." Matthew 12:11, 12.
"It is lawful;" that is, it is according
to law. Christ never reproved the Jews for keeping the law of God, or
for honoring the Sabbath. On the contrary, He ever upheld the law in all
Isaiah prophesied of Christ, "He will
magnify the law, and make it honorable." Isaiah 42:21. To magnify is to
make larger, to raise to a higher position.
Christ magnified the law by showing in
every part its wonderful meaning. He showed that it is to be obeyed, not
only in the actions, which are seen by men, but in the thoughts, which
are known only to God.
To those who claimed that He came to set
aside the law,
He said, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or
the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." Matthew 5:17.
To fulfill means to keep, or perform.
(James 2:8.) So when He came to be baptized by John the Baptist, He
said, "Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." Matthew 3:15.
To fulfill the law is to obey it perfectly.
God's law can never be changed; for
Christ said, "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in
no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Matthew 5:18.
When He asked the question, "Is it lawful
on the Sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to
destroy it?" Christ showed that He could read the hearts of the wicked
Pharisees who accused Him.
While He was trying to save life by
healing the sick, they were trying to destroy life by putting Him to
death. Was it better to slay upon the Sabbath, as they were planning to
do, than to cure the suffering ones, as He had done?
Was it better to have murder in the heart
on God's holy day than to have love toward all men--love which is shown
in kindness and deeds of mercy?
Many times the Jews charged Christ with
breaking the Sabbath. Often they tried to kill Him because He did not
keep it according to their traditions. But this made no difference with
Him. He kept the Sabbath as God wanted it to be kept.
In Jerusalem there was a large pool of
water called Bethesda. At certain times this pool was troubled; the
people believed that an angel of the Lord went down into it, and stirred
the waters, and that the first one who stepped
in after the waters were
stirred would be cured of whatever disease he had.
Great numbers of people came to the
place, hoping to be cured; but most of them were disappointed. At the
moving of the waters there was such a crowd, that many could not even
get to the edge of the pool.
One Sabbath day Jesus came to Bethesda.
His heart was filled with pity as He saw the poor sufferers there.
One man seemed more wretched than the
others. For thirty-eight years he had been a helpless cripple. No doctor
could cure him. Many times he had been brought to Bethesda; but when the
waters were troubled, another would step in before him.
On this Sabbath he had tried once more to
reach the pool, but in vain. Jesus saw him as he crept back to the mat
which was his bed. His strength was almost gone. Unless help should come
soon, he must die.
As he lay thus, now and then lifting his
eyes to look at the pool, a loving face bent over him, and he heard a
voice say, "Wilt thou be made whole?"
The man answered sorrowfully, "Sir, I
have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but
while I am coming, another steppeth down before me."
He did not know that the One beside him
could heal, not one only, but all who should come to Him. Christ said to
the man: "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk."
At once he tried to obey the command, and
strength came to him. He sprang to his feet, and found that he could
stand and could walk. What a delight it was!
He took up his bed and hurried away,
praising God at every step. Soon he met some of the Pharisees, and told
them of his wonderful cure. They did not seem glad, but reproved him for
carrying his bed on the Sabbath day. The man told them, "He that made me
whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk." John 5:1-11.
Then they were no longer displeased with
him, but they blamed the one who had told him to carry his bed on the
At Jerusalem, where the Saviour now was,
many of the learned rabbis lived. Here their false ideas about the
Sabbath were taught to the people. Great numbers came to worship at the
temple, and thus the rabbis' teaching was spread far and wide. Christ
wished to correct these errors. This was why He healed the man on the
Sabbath day, and told him to carry his bed. He knew that this act would
attract the attention of the rabbis, and thus would give Him an
opportunity to instruct them. So it proved. The Pharisees brought Christ
before the Sanhedrin, the chief council of the Jews, to answer the
charge of Sabbathbreaking.
The Saviour declared that His action was
in harmony with the Sabbath law. It was in harmony with the will and the
work of God. "My Father worketh hitherto," He said, "and I work." John
God works continually in sustaining every
living thing. Was His work to cease upon the Sabbath day? Should God
forbid the sun to fulfill its office on the Sabbath? Should He cut off
its rays from warming the earth and nourishing vegetation?
Should the brooks stay from watering the
fields, and the waves of the sea still their ebbing and flowing? Must
the wheat and maize stop growing, and the trees and flowers put forth no
bud or blossom on the Sabbath?
Then man would miss the fruits of the
earth, and the blessings that sustain his life. Nature must continue her
work, or man would die. And man also has a work to do on this day. The
necessities of life must be attended to, the sick must be cared for, the
wants of the needy must be supplied. God does not desire His creatures
to suffer an hour's pain that may be relieved on the Sabbath or any
Heaven's work never ceases, and we should
never rest from doing good. Our own work the law forbids us to do on the
rest day of the Lord. The toil for a livelihood must cease; no labor for
worldly pleasure or profit is lawful upon that day. But the Sabbath is
not to be spent in useless inactivity. As God ceased from His labor of
creating, and rested upon the Sabbath, so we are to rest. He bids us lay
aside our daily occupations, and devote those sacred hours to healthful
rest, to worship, and to holy deeds.