What Did Jesus Say about Working on the Sabbath?

Bible Study Lessons from Matthew 12:1-14

Are we Pharisees? What did Jesus say about working on the Sabbath?

Christ worked in accordance with God’s will.

The Pharisees were so entangled in tradition they could not see that working for God on the Sabbath was acceptable.

This study lesson from the Book of Matthew shows that no compassion meant no forgiveness.

Breaking a Rule vs. Doing Good – What Did Jesus Say about Working on the Sabbath?

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat.

But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.”

But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions, how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone?

Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent?

But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here.

But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.

For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” – Matthew 12:1-8 NASB

39 Things You Can’t Do on the Sabbath

There were ten commandments but the Pharisees had added 1,521 additions to the “Sabbath” law and 39 sections of things forbidden on the Sabbath.

A Nation of “Technicalities”

Harvesting wheat is among the sections mentioned above.

Although the disciples were not really conducting a harvest, picking the heads off the stems to eat was a technicality of the law.

One thing the Pharisees lacked was compassion as they would rather see a person go hungry than to “break” the laws.

Jesus called them on this point.

Jesus Heals on the Sabbath

Departing from there, He went into their synagogue.

And a man was there whose hand was withered.

And they questioned Jesus, asking, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse Him.

And He said to them, “What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out?

How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep!

So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” – Matthew 12:9-12 NASB

Jesus was bringing people to God through his teachings and through healing but the Pharisees viewed this as another law breaking “technicality”.

They were so caught up in going by the letter of the law (and finding ways to destroy Jesus) that they forgot why the temple was built to begin with — to bring people closer to God.

Why Do We Go to Church?

Even Christians are sometimes guilty of putting more emphasis on the “how” of worship rather than the “Who” of worship.

There are instances where churches split because of disagreements on the way a service is held, the way music is played, or even the color of a wall painting project.

Do We want to Be More Like Christ – or the Pharisees?

We don’t abide as much by the “working on Sunday” law in modern times.

But, there are other ceremonies and ways of doing things that are sacred to church congregations.

Let’s not allow ritual to prevail in our house of worship. Let’s remember we are in the sanctuary to reflect, fellowship, worship and praise God — no other reason.

Love In Christ

– Bob

If you would like more information about the experience of Jesus Christ, please take a moment to look at John 3:16.

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