The big question for modern Christians is whether or not Christ ordered us to neglect the Sabbath day. The short answer to this question is no, Christ’s presence in the New Testament had caused a lot of transformations to the original Biblical law. A majority of his fellow Israelites wanted to persecute him because of this; and they did. These transformations were more spiritual than cardinal.
Christ has given us an easier and more forgiving way of entering into his covenant. Mandatory physical burnt offerings , a physical tabernacle, and executing punishments were excluded from the New Covenant. Instead these three burdens of the law have been elevated to a more spiritual manner. The new continual burnt offering is Christ and this is why we pray in his name for our sins. The new tabernacle is now our bodies after we have accepted the covenant and become baptized in his name. The punishments of the law are reserved for The Most High God to execute after we die.
These three major concepts will be esplaind later. For now let’s talk about what all this means for the Sabbath day. Well, the Israelites were very familiar with the seven rules for keeping the Sabbath holy. Anyone who profaned the Sabbath was stoned to death outside the camp. Christ comes on the scene and exalts himself as the son of God. He also starts doing what was commonly seen as unlawful acts on the Sabbath day.
Christ On The Sabbath.
Matthew 12:1-5 “At that time Jesus went on the Sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat.
2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the Sabbath day.
3 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;
4 How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?
5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless.
The Pharisees ridiculed Christ about profaning the Sabbath day. Christ’s response wasn’t what they were expecting to hear. He explained to them that he was not profaning the Sabbath. According to the biblical law, all the things that he did were actually permissible. He explains his reasoning by referencing Old Testament scripture about king David and the priest.
Christ Explanation Against The Pharisees.
First, Christ was performing a portion of the biblical law which the Pharisees were not familiar with. Deuteronomy 23:25; it is lawful for a hungry man to eat the vegetation from their neighbors garden. Except, they could not gather the food. This is the basis in which Christ acted on, he was operating entirely within the boundaries of the Biblical law.
Secondly, 1 Samuel 21:6 Records a time when the priest Ahimelech gave David the holy shewbread. The priest had done this for two reasons, David admitted a level of holiness and he was extremely hungry Leviticus 25:5-9. Seemingly these reasons were sufficient enough for the priest to profane the Sabbath day for a good reason which was to preserve David’s life.
Lastly, According to the Biblical law the Levites had to give a burnt offering to every Sabbath for the Lord. Technically this was unlawful to do because of the amount of work that it required. Their work was ordained to do on the Sabbath. Numbers 28:9-10.
Performing Miracles on The Sabbath.
6 But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.
7 But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.
8 For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.
9 And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue:
10 And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.
11 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?
12 How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.
Sabbath Made For Man
Christ also performed healing miracles on the Sabbath day which was new to the law because no one could do this except Christ at the time. Notice his excuse for healing people is that “it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath”. This same situation happened differently in the book of Mark 2: 27. Christ says that “ The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
In other words, The Most High God gave us his Sabbath of rest for our pleasure. It is a gift not a burden, we shouldn’t keep the Sabbath in fear of judgment, but instead enjoy it as a much needed rest from daily responsibilities. Nonetheless, the rules that govern the Sabbath are also for our benefit. It is difficult for us to appreciate it because we like our busy lives thinking that buying things and doing a bunch of activities defines them as free and abundant. In reality, we are overworked, malnourished and mentally drained.
Christ Did Not Break The Original Sabbath Rules?
Notice also that Christ didn’t break any of the Sabbath rules that we discussed in the two previous articles; no cooking, no traveling, no working for wages, no waging war, no kindling a fire and no creating. Instead he did things that preserved the life that already existed by feeding his disciples, healing the sick and the physically impaired. Mark 3:4 “ And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.”
Preserving a life on the Sabbath is better than destroying it because of the Sabbath. That is what Christ tried to teach the Pharisees and the Jews. He was not advocating for abolishing the Biblical Law of the Sabbath but instead increasing the joy and understanding of keeping the Sabbath holy.
John 5 gives us another example of Christ healing on the Sabbath but the healing he performed caused a man to carry a burden on the Sabbath which was definitely unlawful to do. Christ still stood by his words that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath, yet the Jews and the Pharisees wanted to kill him that day. Christ responded by saying this John 5:46-47 “ For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” Christ is explaining that in order to understand his ways, they must have understood and believed in the Laws of Moses, because Christ is in that same law. I call it the Biblical Law because by technicality it encompasses the entire Bible not just the old testament.
It is a popular teaching in the modern Church to dismiss the Law of Moses as non Christ like, or as if The Most high God has changed. In reality he never did change and this popular teaching is wrong according to scripture. Christ said to believe in Moses and then we can believe on him. The law is our school master: Galatians 3:24 “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” In this case we need to first understad how to keep the sabbath holy before determining how the Sabbath could be “profaned’.
Doing good on the Sabbath day is a positive and much needed spiritual transformation of the Sabbatical law. The original sabbatical laws still stand. Unless there is a situation where we should save, preserve or heal a life. These are the only three excuses Christ allows for us to potentially break the Sabbatical rules. Remember that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. Therefore it is a blessing to enter into the Lords Sabbath and to keep it holy. Be bold and take hold of that God given and ordained rest day.