JESUS AND THE SABBATH
“The Sabbath in Christ’s time was a veil upon the eyes of the people. It prevented them beholding any duty on that day further than the offering of the set form of sacrifice. But Jesus Christ came to show them of the Father.”1
And, it was to show them that He and the FATHER were One! The Messiah is divine—GOD Himself come down to man. As GOD of the Old Testament commanded a Sabbath (a one-day rest from the rigors of the world), so does GOD’s Son in the New.
“Jesus does not argue with His opponents about whether they understand the Sabbath legislation correctly. His interest is whether they understand who He is.”2
The debate between the Jewish religious leaders and JESUS about the Sabbath came to a head when the leaders realized He was making Himself out to be GOD. “[T]he Jews never accused our Lord of blasphemy for saying that he was the Messiah, but for saying that He was the Son of God, because they did not believe that Messiah when He appeared was to be a Divine Person.”3
“This is why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18 ESV).
This verse begins a long discourse, in which our Lord formally defends himself from the charge of the Jews of laying claim to what He had no right to claim. (1.) He asserts His own Divine authority, commission, dignity, and equality with God His Father. (2.) He brings forward the evidence of His Divine commission, which the Jews ought to consider and receive. (3.) Finally, He tells the Jews plainly the reason of their unbelief, and charges home on their consciences their love of man’s praise more than God’s, and their inconsistency in pretending to honour Moses while they did not honour Christ. It is a discourse almost unrivalled in depth and majesty.4
And, does it not hang heavy on our consciences that we take GOD so lightly that we begrudge the command to think upon Him one day of each week?
Is it going too far to say, that if our nation repented of its sin and returned to the old path of Sabbath observance, we would again become the leading nation of the world? But though the nation does not return, let us as individuals, and as a church, put this promise to the test and we shall find the Lord faithful.5
“’If you turn back from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, not seeking your own pleasure, then I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken’” (Isa 58:13-14 ESV).
(16) The Jews Observed the Sabbath
1. Charles Ellicott, “Commentary on Mark 2:27,” 1905, Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers, 10 February 2021 https://www.studylight.org/commentary/mark/2-27.html#verse-ebc.
2. R.C. Sproul, ed., The Reformation Study Bible (Orlando, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 2005) 1518.
3. J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 2007) III:282.
5. C.E. Hunter, “Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy,” Chapel Library, February 10, 2021 https://www.chapellibrary.org:8443/pdf/books/ktld.pdf.
6. Philip Schaff, “Commentary on Mark 2:27,” 1879-90, Schaff’s Popular Commentary on the NT, 10 February 2021 https://www.studylight.org/commentary/mark/2-27.html#verse-scn.
7. Charles Wesley, and John Darwall, “Rejoice the Lord is King,” 1744, Hymnary, 10 February 2021 https://hymnary.org/text/rejoice_the_lord_is_king_your_lord_and_k.
8. John 5:19-47.
9. Matt 12:3-4.
10. Matt 12:11.
11. Albert Barnes, “Commentary on Isaiah 58:13,” 1870 Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible, 10 February 2021 https://www.studylight.org/commentary/isaiah/58-13.html.
12. D. Lloyd, “Commentary on Ezekiel 20:12,” 1905-09, The Biblical Illustrator, 10 February 2021 https://www.studylight.org/commentary/ezekiel/20-12.html.
13. ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2001, ESV Text Edition: 2011) 1342.
14. Sinclair Ferguson, “Sabbath Rest,” 1 March 2004, Ligonier Ministries, 10 February 2021 https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/sabbath-rest/.
15. Alistair Begg, “The Gift of the Sabbath,” 18 July 1999, Truth for Life, The Bible-Teaching Ministry of Alistair Begg, 10 February 2021 https://www.truthforlife.org/resources/sermon/the-gift-of-the-sabbath/.