Christ, Sovereign of The Sabbath: Part 2 (Mark 3:1-6)

Christ, Sovereign of The Sabbath: Part 2 (Mark 3:1-6)

Mark 2:23-3:6

Last week we began to look at the increasing tension between Jesus and the Pharisees. As we briefly look back through Mark we can see the buildup occur. Israel had been waiting for the Messiah. They believed God would send a man to save them from the Roman oppression, and build a kingdom. The religious leaders believed this “man” would think and act the way they did. He would come to them with admiration. The beginning of Mark shows:

1.) John the Baptist directing Israel to their long awaited Messiah, Jesus Christ (Mark 1:1-13).

2.) The Messiah comes and demonstrates His authority over man, the Scripture, the spiritual realm, sickness, and disease (Mark 1:14-45).

3.) The Messiah is not only fully man, but fully God as well (Mark 2:1-12).

4.) Not only is He the God-man, but He thinks and acts contrary to the Pharisees (Mark 2:13-17).

5.) The Messiah rejects their ordinances, and reveals they teach a different Christ (Mark 2:18-22).

6.) He defies their Sabbath system, and declares they are not lords over it, He is (Mark 2:23-28).

Why are things becoming so tense? Man is learning they are nothing like God; more importantly God is nothing like them!

Rather than having a change of heart and mind towards the true God they harden themselves. Rather than submitting to the revealed Messiah they grew callous concluding He was not the true Messiah, because He did not measure up to them. The true “Messiah” would have honored their Sabbath system and upheld it.

How sad, the Creator stood right before them and all they did was look to themselves and their false system as the Messianic standard.

The beginning of John comes to mind:

10He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.11He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.”[1]

Do we notice Jesus is not seeking to be culturally relevant with these men? In other words, He is not subjecting Himself to their Sabbath system in order to “bridge a gap”. He is defying their cultural norm in order to reveal man’s error and God’s truth. He separates the truth of God from their apostasy. They built a system where they controlled the Sabbath; Christ reveals He is Lord of the Sabbath. He never relinquished that authority; they only attempted to usurp it!

With this in mind I want a few questions to be answered today:

Is Christ truly Lord of the Sabbath?

If He is Lord of the Sabbath, what has he done with it?

What is our relation to be to the Sabbath Day?

Let’s see what happens in the text:

Mark 3:1-2

1And He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there with a withered hand.2And they were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, in order that they might accuse Him.”

It is hear we can clearly see the connection between these two events. This is typical of Christ to declare something unseen about Himself, and to then confirm it through an observable event.

For instance, how do we know Jesus has the authority to forgive sins? He healed a paralytic (Mark 2:1-12)

We are going to see the same thing occur here. You really have to admire how the Holy Spirit inspired Mark to record this. The stage is set right from the beginning to know exactly what Christ is going to do and to prove:


1.) Jesus just declared to be Lord of the Sabbath.

2.) He now enters a synagogue on the Sabbath.

3.) There is a man there with a withered hand.

4.) The men He confronted are also there.

Matthew says it was their synagogue.[2] It is safe for us to assume based on these four areas that Jesus is going to prove a point. By the way, every synoptic account records the true desire of the Pharisees here:

What did they want Christ to do? Break their law, so they may accuse Him.[3]

If you have been on the fritz about whether or not Jesus is intentionally defying their system, this portion should help you to see He is. I believe one question will convince you:

Was it absolutely necessary to the vitality of the man with the withered hand that he be healed on the Sabbath, or could it have waited until Sunday? He could have waited, but He does not.

Do we notice that the Pharisees already assume what Jesus is going to do?

That is because it was not the first time Christ had healed an individual on the Sabbath. Jesus had already done so in Jerusalem:

John 5:1-18

1After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.2Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes.In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted. A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, ‘Do you wish to get well?’ The sick man answered Him, ‘Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.’ Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk. Now it was the Sabbath on that day. 10 So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, ‘It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.’ 11 But he answered them, ‘He who made me well was the one who said to me, ‘‘Pick up your pallet and walk.’12 They asked him, ‘Who is the man who said to you, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk’?’ 13 But the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place.14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.’ 15 The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath.17 But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.”18 For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”

These men would definitely be aware of this. Luke tells us as the Pharisees watched Jesus and:

“…He (Jesus) knew what they were thinking…”[4]

Let’s see what happens:

Mark 3:3

3And He said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Rise and come forward!’”

He knew what they wanted to do to Him! When we assess the synoptic accounts I believe it is appropriate for us to understand the Pharisees immediately ask a question:

“…Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”[5]

This helps us to understand Jesus’ response. Remember, Jesus is demonstrating that He, and His message, stands apart from theirs. He is not going to appease their foolishness. They are merciless hypocrites, and Christ will again expose that here.

Mark 3:4

4And He said to them, ‘Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save a life or to kill?’ But they kept silent.”

Classic Jesus, answering an opponent’s question with a question!

Is it lawful to do good or to do harm?

1.) If they answer “to do good” they will have no reason to accuse Him, which is what they want.

2.) If they answer “to do harm” they will be in clear opposition to the law of Moses.

Q.) Is it lawful to save a life, or to kill?

Matthew gives a little more detail into this:

“What man shall there be among you, who shall have one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it, and lift it out? Of how much more value than is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”[6]

In other words, “You men show mercy and compassion to your own animals on the Sabbath; therefore, it is obviously good to help others.” If you can recognize it is good to save your sheep on the Sabbath you should be able to see it is good to assist your fellow man.

What did they say to that logic? Nothing!

Mark is the only one to record their response to His questions:

“…But they kept silent.”[7]

Think of the irony here:

They want to bring an accusation against Christ for doing good on the Sabbath, so they may kill Him. They want Him to do good, so they may do harm! They want Him to save a life, so they may kill!

Jesus knows exactly what is taking place within the innermost thoughts and intentions of their hearts. He cuts deep with His question, but only to receive an expected silence in return. After all, there intention that Sabbath Day was to devise a plan to harm and to kill the true Sovereign of the Sabbath.

Mark 3:5

5And after looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.”

Is Jesus Lord of the Sabbath? Absolutely!

He declared it and He displayed it.

Mark 3:6

6And the Pharisees went out and immediately began taking counsel with the Herodian’s against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.”

They plot to kill the Sovereign of the Sabbath!

Do you want to know the good news? They were successful!

They were successful, because it was all a part of God’s plan of reconciling lost humanity to Himself. The plan where the wicked injustice of man is going to satisfy the justice of the true God! The plan where the Innocent dies in the place of the guilty in order to be just and the justifier of the one who comes through faith.

Peter, an eyewitness of Christ acknowledges this very plot they set out to accomplish in light of God’s:

22Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.”[8]

Understand this:

1.) It was promised from the very beginning that the Messiah would be crushed to redeem mankind.[9]

2.) It was revealed in Isaiah that it would be God the Father crushing the Messiah as humanities sin is laid upon Him.[10]

3.) It was realized in the gospel that is was God the Son, Jesus Christ, Who was the promised Messiah.[11]

God’s Son took our sin and bore the wrath we all deserve, thus saving us from God Himself.[12] Not only did He graciously save us from His wrath by faith, but in love He reconciled us to Himself by the blood of Christ, the Son of God.[13]

Do you want to be forgiven of your sins? Repent and believe the gospel of Christ!

Something ironic also occurred when these men accomplished their plan to destroy Christ. It brought about the fulfillment of the Sabbath!

The Scripture says:

Colossians 2:16-17

“16 Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.”

According to Paul, what is the Sabbath? A shadow cast by Christ!

Shadows do not fully present the substance they merely give a rough outline of it.

Who is the substance? Jesus Christ!

The Sabbath Day finds its fulfillment in Christ, the self-declared Lord of the Sabbath. We find rest in the substance, not the shadow.

Again, consider when He established the Sabbath:

2And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all of His work which He had done. 3Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all of His work which God had created and made.”[14]

Was this rest established pre, or post-fall of man? Pre-fall of man!

So, Adam and Eve were initially apart of His rest.

What happened? Their sin in the garden drove them from it!

The Scripture is about God working to redeem humanity back into that Sabbath rest with Him. There is only one way, and it is through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ!

Look at Hebrews:

Hebrews 4:3-11

For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, ‘As I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest,’ although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works’; and again in this passage, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, ‘Today,’ saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, ‘Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.’ For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.”

Notice He is able to discern where we lay in rest:

Hebrew 4:12-13

12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”

Are we resting in Christ’s righteousness, or are we striving for eternal rest through our own works?

Do you want to enter God’s Sabbath rest?

Realize it is not through strict adherence to a day, but through faith in the finished work of its Lord. This means believers are not bound to keeping it! Honoring the Sabbath Day was given to the Israelites under the Mosaic Covenant. Through Christ’s fulfilment of the Mosaic covenant the New Covenant was established.

Sunday is the Lord’s day, and it is entirely new. It did not replace the Sabbath, because the Sabbath was fulfilled in Christ.

So, what does this mean? The Lord’s Day is not to be observed necessarily with physical rest, but with worship of the One in which our eternal rest is found!

Can one choose to observe rest on a certain day? Certainly, as long as they are not looking to their observation as a means of salvation, nor imposing it upon others.

Paul says it best in Romans:

One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.”[15]

The Lord of the Sabbath says:

28Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.”[16]

Let us enter through faith the true rest that only Christ, The Sovereign of the Sabbath can provide!

[1] John 1:10-11

[2] Matthew 12:9

[3] Matthew 12:10; Mark 3:2; Luke 6:7

[4] Luke 6:8

[5] Matthew 12:10

[6] Matthew 12:11-12

[7] Mark 3:4b

[8] Acts 2:22-23

[9] Genesis 3:15

[10] Isaiah 53:10-12

[11] John 1:29;4:25-26;6:66-71

[12] Romans 5:1-12

[13] Ephesians 1-2:10

[14] Genesis 2:2-3

[15] Romans 14:5

[16] Matthew 11:28-29

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