Sabbath Meditation #41 – What Did Jesus Do on the Sabbath?
Years ago there was a movement where people wore bracelets which read “What Would Jesus Do?” (WWJD). While this is a great reminder to guide our daily lives, another question we could ask is “What DID Jesus Do?” (WDJD)
There are many times we can know what Jesus would do in a situation because He already did it when He walked on earth. In this case, there’s no need to wonder. The example was already set for us.
Such is the case for the Sabbath!
If we ever needed an example of flawless, bountiful Sabbath observance, Jesus set the standard. In this article, we want to examine what Jesus actually did on the Sabbath. It will teach us about God’s expectations for us on the day. We will look at some examples from the gospels.
“16 He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. He entered, as was his custom, into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 The book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, 18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to deliver those who are crushed, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’ (Isaiah 61:1-2) 20 He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began to tell them, ‘Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’”
In these verses, we learn that it was Jesus’ custom to gather with others on the Sabbath. Synagogues such as the one discussed in Luke have been found in Israel. Migdal, the hometown of Mary Magdalene, had two synagogues that dated to the time of Jesus (Click here to learn more).
Jesus read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. This helps us understand that He read the Scriptures on the Sabbath. He also chose this day to announce to the people that the prophecy from Isaiah about the captives being free was fulfilled. This happened on this day in part because the Sabbath is the day of freedom! The principles discussed in those verses from Isaiah are embodied in the Sabbath!
Later in this same chapter, we are given another instance of Jesus keeping the Sabbath!
31 He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. He was teaching them on the Sabbath day, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word was with authority. 33 In the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 saying, “Ah! what have we to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God!” 35 Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” When the demon had thrown him down in the middle of them, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 Amazement came on all, and they spoke together, one with another, saying, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” 37 News about him went out into every place of the surrounding region. 38 He rose up from the synagogue, and entered into Simon’s house. Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a great fever, and they begged him for her. 39 He stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her. Immediately she rose up and served them.”
In this example, we learn that Jesus taught people, cast out a devil, fellowshipped with people in homes, and prayed for the sick to be healed on the Sabbath. Later in Luke, we see another example of Jesus’ actions on the Sabbath:
“1 When he went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees on a Sabbath to eat bread, they were watching him. 2 Behold, a certain man who had dropsy was in front of him. 3 Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’ 4 But they were silent. He took him, and healed him, and let him go. 5 He answered them, ‘Which of you, if your son or an ox fell into a well, wouldn’t immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?’” 6 They couldn’t answer him regarding these things. 7 He spoke a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the best seats, and said to them…”
There are three things about Jesus and the Sabbath we learn in Luke 14:1-5, which I have broken down below:
1) He ate with others on the Sabbath. In another place, Matthew 12:1-12, we learn that Jesus and the disciples ate grain on the Sabbath. We learn that eating is an important part of the Sabbath. When people get together, food is often involved!
2) He healed someone, which was a common part of His Sabbath observance. The gospels give us many examples of Jesus healing others on the Sabbath. Some other examples include, but are not limited to, Mark 3:1-6, John 5:1-15, John 9:1-12. He also taught us about the deeper meaning of the Sabbath in these instances.
3) Lastly, Jesus taught other people in Luke 14. The lesson did not make them feel comfortable or good; He challenged them. He called out their traditions about healing and then told them a parable to correct their attitudes about how to treat other people. Later in the chapter, Jesus told the parable of the wedding banquet.
So when it comes to Jesus and the Sabbath, the example is very clear. The New Testament record reveals that He did the following:
– Gathered with others
– Read the Scriptures
– Taught about the Scriptures, how to treat others, and the proper way to observe the Sabbath
– Declared prophetic fulfillments
– Offered correction to false beliefs/doctrine
– Taught parables
– Healed people
– Cast out devils
– Freed people from affliction, illness, bondages, strongholds
– Fellowshipped in homes
– Ate with others
What an example for us of how to keep the Sabbath!
Kelly McDonald, Jr.
BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org