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Christ’s Teaching on the Sabbath is Vindicated. Matthew 12:9-14


Christ’s Teaching on the Sabbath is Vindicated

Text: Matthew 12:9-14
In our last study, Jesus calls upon David, to show that that Acts of Necessity, Moses to show that Acts of Piety, and Hosea to show that Acts of Mercy, were legitimate, perfectly permissible on the Sabbath Day. Now, a second incident occurs, where Jesus and the disciples make their way to the synagogue, (Luke makes clear that this occurred on ‘another Sabbath Luke 6:6) where they encounter a man with a withered hand… Let’s return to the text:

1. The Scenario in the Jew’s Synagogue. 9 Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue.
There is:-

  • A crushing incapacity. 10 And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. Notice that the bible doesn’t tell us who this man is, or what he did for a living, or how his injury happened. One thing we do know is that his disability would have taken away his livelihood and reduced him to poverty. We are not told that this man approached Jesus for healing – so we must assume that he simply was there, and was selected by the pharisees as a trap to entangle Jesus with their laws. So there’s
  • A challenging question. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’ So, is healing on the Sabbath work? There’s no OT prohibition on healing on the Sabbath, but in the minute legalese of the Scribes, healing is WORK, and work is forbidden.The underlying motive is quite clearly stated here. The question they were putting to Jesus was disingenuous. They didn’t care about the man, but in their wicked hearts, their real motive was to find more evidence to lay more charges against Jesus. We need to be careful with this that even in our day, we do not allow disengenuity to foster in our hearts. It’s so easy to seem reasonable on the outward appearance but to have evil in our hearts.

2. The Substantiation of Christ’s Teaching.  v11-13

  • Jesus illustrates their hypocrisy. 11-13 Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? This was actually an OT Law – if your sheep fell on the Sabbath, then it was an act of mercy to go and rescue it. Who wouldn’t? How cruel would it be to leave a dumb animal in a state of suffering! yet look at the awful hypocrisy. They would do good to an animal but not to a human being? So:-


  • Jesus reinforces the value of human beings. Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Haven’t they read Genesis, or Psalm 8? Haven’t they understood the redemptive work of God, in rescuing them from national slavery? So,
  • Jesus adds a another perspective on Sabbath Work. Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.  Remember that he has already challenged their man made laws, by showing the OT precedents, by referring to acts of necessity, piety and mercy. Now he rolls up these into one all-encompassing principle – that it is right and legitimate, under the OT law to do good, even on the Sabbath day.
  • Jesus demonstrates God’s approval of his teaching.  Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. But now there’s a demonstration. Jesus speaks to the disabled man, and invites him to stretch out his hand and when he did so, it was completely healed! See how effective that act of rescue was:-
    • It was a work of grace! He came to where the poor man as and he restored him to health! The man had no part in his healing, there’s no movement of man toward God…
    • It restored him to wholeness! His hand now looked exactly like the other hand which had been unaffected by the disability. No scars, no marks, no weaknesses. Christ’s work of rescuing the man is perfect in every way!
    • It enabled him to function in society. Now he could work and earn a living and no longer be a burden on others. His whole life was renewed, he had been given a new start, a new life, just as if he had been born all over again!
    • It gave him dignity! Christ’s intervention made him what God intended him to be, for all human disability is a result of Adam’s sin – Christ has rescued him from that curse! Now he has freedom from his burden, and with that freedom comes the responsibility to live for Christ.

God wants us to be whole, and that’s what the Sabbath is all about. It a rest, not a burden, it’s a delight and a benefit and a blessing.

3. The Severity of the Lawyers’ Reaction. 14 Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.
Do the Scribes and Pharisees simply say, ’Well, we are really sorry about this, we seem to have got our views on the Law wrong, and we repent of them…’ NO! There are none so blind as those who don’t want to see! Instead they are mad and in anger they react.



  • Their tactics. They go out and they PLOT! It’s a plot with official backing too. Look at Mark 3:6. Now, who were the Herodians? Basically they were a political party, whose only purpose was to keep Herod in power, – the same Herod who had beheaded John the Baptist. They were wicked men, and the Pharisees were willing to conspire with them to bring down the Lord Jesus, and to send him ultimately to the cross. What wickedness there is among religious people when they conspire with politicians to do evil against God’s work.
  • Their target. The object of their plotting was to destroy their Messiah, to do away with the One who made them uncomfortable in their self righteousness.

So, the Sabbath controversy rumbles on, but now Jesus has not only taught them about the true meaning of the Sabbath, but he has vindicated his teaching by a miracle, and that absolute proof of his authority maddens his enemies.

© BobMcEvoy January 2019

The Savoy Declaration of Faith and Order 1658


Chapter 22

6. As it is of the law of nature, that in general a proportion of time by God’s appointment be set apart for the worship of God; so by his Word in a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a Sabbath to be kept holy unto him; which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and from the resurrection of Christ was changed into the first day of the week, which in Scripture is called the Lord’s Day, and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week being abolished.

7. This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations; but also are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy


From → Bible Study, Matthew

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