Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath

Shared on April 21, 2024

This week’s lesson takes a look at the religious leaders challenging Jesus about the Sabbath. Join Pastor McCrary as he answers the question whether or not the disciples broke the law of the Sabbath. Did Jesus break the law of the Sabbath when a man came to Him with a withered hand? We will see today that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath.


Throughout this quarter we have been seeing Jesus’ divine authority at work.  Just last week, our lesson focused on Jesus showing His authority over a demon that possessed a boy.  Throughout this quarter we have seen Jesus show power and authority over sickness, disability, and even death.  The point of each miracle was to glorify God and do His will.  Each miracle confirmed Jesus’ deity to those who witnessed them.

In our lesson this week, we are going to see Jesus heal a man with a withered hand.  It is not so much the miracle that we will focus on but the day that the miracle was done.  Jesus, once again, will show His authority, but this time, He will show His authority over the day, and even more importantly, the law.

Lord of the Sabbath

Our lesson opens with Luke telling us about what happened on a Sabbath.  Scripture tells us that as He and the disciples went through a grainfield, the disciples plucked grain to eat (Luke 6:1).  Now, you and I wouldn’t think much of the disciples doing this, right?  However, the Pharisees had something to say about what they witnessed.

Jesus establishes proper authority

The Pharisees asked the disciples, “why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath (Luke 6:2)?”  Why was it unlawful to pick grain on the Sabbath?  Let’s take a look at the law of the Sabbath to answer this question.  

In Exodus 20:10, we will see God’s instructions on how the Sabbath was to be treated.  “You shall do no work:  you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant.”  Nobody, not even the animals, was supposed to work on the Sabbath.  Work, we should consider, was any laborious task.

Was plucking grain in the field considered hard labor?  Jesus answered their question by speaking to what David did when he was hungry (Luke 6:3-4).  David would go into the house of God, eat showbread and pass it around to those who were with him.  The showbread was only  meant to be eaten by the priest who served in the tabernacle, later the temple.  

The thought here is nobody stopped David. How many people were going to try to stop the king from doing what he desired?  So, the Pharisees had put themselves in a position of authority to police the Sabbath.  They were telling Jesus and the disciples what they could not do on the day. While they did have authority over the law, its hard to enforce a law you don’t fully understand.

So, Jesus said, “The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath (Luke 6:5).”  The “Son of Man” is how Jesus often referred to Himself.  Jesus is the Son of God but also the Son of Man since He was born through the flesh.  For Him to say that He is also Lord of the Sabbath speaks to His deity and authority over the day.  Who could tell Him what He could or could not do at any time?

God given authority

These Pharisees remind me of what a lot of people try to do in the name of God today.  There are many people who profess to be Christians and try to dictate to others what they can and cannot do.  This is done under the pretense that they alone have been given authority by God to dictate how others should live.  There is a problem with such a mindset.  What is the problem?  

Did Jesus give anyone authority over the word? Yes. Jesus said that the faithful and wise servant should have rule over his household (Matt. 24:45).  Then Christ commissioned all who are of true faith to share the gospel with all people (Matt. 28:19-20).   So, not one singular person or group has authority over the word of God, but all sincere believers.

Now, with that authority, Paul wrote that stewards of the gospel should be found faithful to the gospel (1 Cor. 4:1).  Peter wrote that the gift we have received should be ministered through the grace of God.  Again, Peter said that we ought to be as “good stewards” of the manifold grace of God (1 Pet. 4:10).

The religious leaders wanted to lord over the Sabbath but they lacked understand.  When it comes to ministering the gospel, don’t try to lord over it.  Yes, we have authority over the gospel but we must minister out of the grace shown to us. The believer must also be of full understanding of the word they are sharing as well so that we can be faithful in its dispensing.

Jesus Heals on the Sabbath

Luke then wrote about another Sabbath.  On this Sabbath, Jesus was teaching in the synagogue when He was visited by a man with a withered hand (Luke 6:6).  Scripture tells us that the scribes and the Pharisees closely watched to see what Jesus would do (Luke 6:7).  This almost sounds like the religious leaders put this man up to going to Jesus so that they could evaluate Jesus, doesn’t it?

The religious leaders, again, thought that they were the only ones who had authority over the law of God.  Something I like to do when I teach lessons is ask the room questions.  The reason I like to do this is because I believe we all can learn better through discussion.  There have been times where the room has taught me, even though I may have a bit more knowledge than the room.  It is always good to be humble rather than thinking you always have the final say.

The religious leaders suffered greatly from a lack of humility.  In fact, they looked down on those that they should have been helping out.  In this moment, they likely thought they would use this man with a disability to work against Jesus!  However, Jesus could tell what was going on and would use this man to teach them the same lesson again.

Jesus had the man stand up for the people to see (Luke 6:8).  Jesus then asked the religious leaders, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy (Luke 6:9)?”  The religious leader’s point was that no labor should have been done on Sabbath.  The point that Jesus was asking was if it was a bad thing to help those that needed help on Sabbath.

Again, in Exodus 31:12-18, the Lord reiterated that no labor should be done on the Sabbath.  The day was supposed to be holy to the children of Israel.  What Jesus’ question poses is how could it be considered hard labor to help those in need of help?  To go back to the disciples in the grainfield, Jesus essentially asked the religious leaders, “should My disciples starve?”  

Did the religious leaders really expect for Jesus not to heal someone that came to Him?  I believe they knew Jesus would heal the man, but this would be another feather in the cap they could use against Jesus.  The reason why the religious leaders despised Jesus so much came down to power and authority.  In their minds, Jesus was taking away their power and authority which is why they despised Him.

Consider what it was they were despising about Jesus for a moment.  They despised Jesus for healing the sick, making the lame again, and giving sight to the blind.  Yeah, very strange that a man doing good work caused them to be so angry!  To show His authority once again, Jesus had the man stretch out His hand and He healed him (Luke 6:10).  This, again, angered the religious leaders as they began to plan what they would do to Jesus.

Authority Belongs to God

So, what is it that we can take from our lesson this week?  The first thing we should take away from this week’s lesson is that authority belongs to God and not man.  Yes, I know I shared scripture earlier to show that God has given us authority over the gospel.  While we have such authority, we must remember that authority was given by God.

The religious leaders had come up with their own set of rules to play by.  They then took their own set of rules and tried to force their rules on to others.  Jesus rebuked their rules by word and by actions which they despised Him for.  Jesus, on several occasions, said that He was in the world to do the Father’s will (John 6:38-39). 

Something that I try to share with believers all the time is for them to know who they are.  I preached a series of sermons last year titled – “Know Thyself“.  In that series, I preached that when you know who you are you have power.  Our power comes from our own individual relationship with the Lord.  

While I, as a pastor, can give you advice, at the end of the day, you choose how to live.  Along those same lines, you have your own relationship with the Lord.  While I may give you advice that to help, at the end of the day, again, its your choice.  Yes, it’s your choice how to live and then God, by His authority, will judge you.

The religious believed they had the power to judge others.  There are many believers who believe this same way- they think they have the authority to judge others.  No, there is only one judge and that is the Lord.  God has authority over all things, even your own rules that you like to live by.

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