Jesus and the Sabbath
By Mark A. Finley
Some people have the idea that Jesus came to do away with the Sabbath. The opposite is true. Jesus did not come to destroy the law, He came to fulfill it (see Matt. 5:17, 18). To fulfill means to fill full of meaning. Jesus did not come to abolish the Sabbath. He came to fill it full of meaning. The Jewish leaders of His time placed unnecessary restrictions upon the Sabbath and it became a burden; the Sabbath was often a yoke of bondage.
Jesus came to clear the rubbish away from the Sabbath, so it would shine in all its beauty. He revealed in His life and teachings that the Sabbath is a special gift of love. In today’s lesson we will look at the Sabbath with new eyes and rediscover Christ’s precious gift of love.
1. What was Jesus’ common practice on Sabbath? Read the text below and write the answer in your own words in the space provided.
“So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read” (Luke 4:16).
Jesus’ practice—His custom—was to worship His heavenly Father each Sabbath. The Sabbath is first and foremost a day of worship and praise. Sabbath is a celebration of God’s goodness, grace, and love. It is a weekly reminder of His love for us.
2. Why did the Pharisees criticize Jesus’ disciples for their Sabbathkeeping practices? Circle the answer in the text below.
“At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, ‘Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!’” (Matt. 12:1, 2).
3. How did Jesus respond to the Pharisees’ criticism? Read the text and write the answer in your own words.
“But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Matt. 12:7, 8).
This experience clearly reveals that as Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus works to meet the needs of His people. The Sabbath is not a day of bondage, but a day of mercy and compassion.
4. The Pharisees also condemned Jesus for healing the withered hand of a man on the Sabbath. How did Jesus respond to them?
“Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matt. 12:12).
5. What principle do you discover in your own life from this passage of Scripture? Write your thoughts below.
6. What counsel did Jesus give His disciples in His sermon on last-day events in Matthew 24 regarding the Sabbath?
“And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation” (Matt. 24:20, 21, first part).
Jesus instructed His disciples to pray that their flight from the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman
general Titus in A.D. 70 would not be on the Sabbath because _________________________________
We serve a loving, compassionate Lord. He desires every Sabbath to be a day of praise, worship, and fellowship. Sabbath is a day of mercy for doing good.
7. How did Jesus’ death testify about the importance of the Bible Sabbath?
“Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56).
The closest followers of Christ __________________________ on the _________________________
day according to the _________________________________________________________________
The cross speaks of rest, not work. It speaks of laying our burdens down, not picking them up. The closest followers of Christ rested on the Sabbath as an example of their rest in Jesus’ love.
8. What invitation does Jesus give to each of us? Circle the two key words in the text below.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
Our Lord’s divine invitation is come, rest, and worship. In Jesus we find rest for the deepest longings of our heart. For Jesus the Sabbath was a day of resting in His Father’s care and mercy, a day to witness God’s miraculous healing power. It was a time to reflect on God’s Word and works.
It is His desire that we sense His love, live in His grace, and rest in His care every Sabbath.
We’re not finished with the Sabbath. Next month we will look at how Jesus’ disciples regarded the Sabbath.