Why Jesus Healed on the Sabbath Day: THIS IS BIG

Every Jewish follower of the Law in the ancient world knew this one thing: you don’t work on the Sabbath.

Never. Ever.

No excuses. Nobody in Israel dared work on God’s Sabbath.

Which brings us to the question of why Jesus healed on the Sabbath day.

There might be some fine points to the Law that only the Pharisees knew. But this wasn’t one of them.

This was something EVERYBODY knew.

But the Pharisees? Every Sabbath was their big day to show off. They understood all the fine points of the Law, and they loved to make sure everybody knew.

They studied the Law 6-days-a-week. On day 7, they would come out for Sabbath observances and show everybody else what a Pharisee looked like.

I’m sure many of the other Sabbath keepers were very impressed.

But there was one who wasn’t so impressed. He was known as Jesus of Nazareth, and everybody could tell. His Galilean accent gave him away.

Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. Why wasn’t he impressed with the Pharisees’ awesome display of knowledge and pride?

The answer is as close as your Bible.

How Many Times Did Jesus Heal on the Sabbath?

Although Christ performed numerous miracles (37 total miracles, according to this count) prior to being crucified, only 7 miraculous healings are recorded on the Sabbath.

In fact, the number 7 is the number of God’s perfect completion and we find its significance on numerous occasions throughout scripture from Genesis to Revelation.

But, who did Jesus heal on the Sabbath and how?

Let’s find out!

1. Jesus Heals a Man with a Wicked Spirit

Found in: Mark 1:21-28 and John 4:31-36.

While teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum, Christ was confronted by a demon-possessed man.

Yes, it was the Sabbath day but Jesus cast the unclean spirit out of the man nonetheless.

 And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. Mark 1:21-22, ESV

In verse 24, the demon calls Jesus by name and declares him “The Holy One of God”“!

So not only does Jesus declare himself God (and you can read more here about Jesus’ Blatant Claims to be God, but demons and people declared him to be God. But on top of that were all the miracles.)

2. Jesus Heals Peter’s Mother-In-Law

Found in: Matthew 8:14-15 Mark 1:29-31 Luke 4:38-39

Here the Messiah makes the fever leave the body of Peter’s mother-in-law and this miracle performed on the Sabbath appears in all 3 of the synoptic Gospels.

All he does is rebuke the fever and it leaves her immediately.

But word travels fast. Next thing you know, the whole town is at their doorstep. (see Mark1:33)

Jesus healed many more that day and cast out many demons. According to Mark 1:34), he wouldn’t allow the demons to speak, because they knew him.

3. Christ Restores the Withered Hand of a Man

Found in: Matthew 12:9-13 Mark 3:1-6 Luke 6:6-11

Christ wasn’t fond of the hardness of the Pharisees’ hearts and he confronted them by asking them if it was okay to do good on the Sabbath.

As a result, our Lord and Savior restored a man’s withered hand.

4. Jesus Heals an Invalid Man at Bethesda

Found in: John 5:1-17

This miracle took place in Jerusalem on the Sabbath, which infuriated the Jews who decided to kill Jesus.

Jesus healed many people on the Sabbath to illustrate his claim as Lord of the Sabbath.

The healed man who had been an invalid for 38 years, committed the crime of carrying his bed on the Sabbath in full view of the Pharisees.

The Pharisees cared more about their unscriptural Sabbath Laws than the phenomenal miracle that showed that they were in the presence of Greatness.

5. Jesus Restores a Blind Man’s Vision

Found in: John 9:1-12

Interestingly, this is the only miraculous Sabbath healing performed by Christ on someone who was born with a specific disease – in this case, blindness.

6.  Christ Heals a Crippled Woman

Found in: Luke 13:10-17

Here, Christ removes Satan’s grip on a woman who had a disabled spirit for 18 years.

He also calls the rulers of the synagogue hypocrites as they water their donkeys and oxen on the Sabbath, yet they had the audacity to be upset with Jesus healing on the rest day.

“You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it?” Luke 13:15, ESV

7. Christ Heals a Man with a Dropsy

Found in: Luke 14:1-6

Sabbath miracle number 7 courtesy of Jesus is the one in Luke 14:1-6, where he heals a man with dropsy (a form of edema).

Christ also made sure to silence the Pharisees by asking them whether or not they’d help their son if he fell into a well on a Sabbath. Which brings us to the reason he healed on the Sabbath.

Why Did Jesus Heal on the Sabbath?

Clearly, one of the primary reasons why Jesus healed on the Sabbath was to expose the Pharisees’ hypocrisy.

They accused him of breaking the Sabbath law while doing work on this day themselves.

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This is a good example of Jesus exposing their hypocrisy after they were unhappy with him casting out a disabling spirit from a woman:

The Pharisees obviously had a distorted view of keeping the Sabbath holy as they had already inserted their own human laws and conditions into Sabbath observance.

That’s why Christ confronted them with the following words:

“Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” Mark 3:4, ESV

Guess what? They were all silent.

Keep in mind that Jesus was only violating the Pharisee’s messed up interpretation of the law by healing on the Sabbath, not God’s law.

What characterized Christ’s healing as some form of work were the man-made traditions and additions to the original Ten Commandments provided by God (See Exodus 20).

That’s why the religious leaders at the time really disliked Christ because he was shedding light on their distorted implementation of God’s law.

That’s why in Matthew 5:17 Christ revealed this:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:17, ESV

In a sense, Jesus actually helped all the afflicted, spiritually oppressed and diseased people enjoy a proper Sabbath rest as he healed them of their infirmities.

Christ lets everyone know.

Thus, when Jesus healed on the Sabbath, he not only exposed the Pharisee’s hypocrisy, but he also made it clear that he is God in the flesh, while fulfilling prophecy at the same time as their hatred for him ultimately led to his crucifixion.

23 One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of[a] Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:23-28

Who Did Jesus Heal on the Sabbath?

Jesus healed a total of 7 individuals (5 men and 2 women) on the Sabbath according to the Bible and much to the dislike of the Pharisees.

Here’s each person who was healed, where and how with the corresponding passages from the Holy Scriptures:

1. A Man with an Unclean Spirit

Where: A synagogue in Capernaum

Bible passages: Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37

A demon-possessed man appeared while Christ was teaching at a synagogue and the Lord quickly dealt with the unclean spirit as recorded in Scripture:

“But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm.” (Luke 4:35)

2. Peter’s Mother-in-Law Who Had Fever

Where: Simon-Peter and Andrew’s house in Capernaum

Bible passages:

Matthew 8:14-15

Mark 1:29-31

Luke 4:38-39

14 And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. Matthew 8:14-15, ESV

This is the first of the two women who Jesus healed and in this case, all that he had to do to restore her health was to rebuke the fever she was suffering from.

3. A Man with a Withered Hand

Where: A synagogue, likely in Capernaum

Bible passages:

Matthew 12:9-13

Mark 3:1-6

Luke 6:6-11

This is another fascinating example of Christ showcasing his ability to miraculously heal anyone, anywhere because he’s God.

All that Jesus did to restore the man’s hand was to tell him “Stretch out your hand.” and he was healed.

4. A Lame Man

Where: A pool called Bethesda in Jerusalem

Bible passage:

John 5:1-18

Here, Jesus simply told the invalid man to “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”

18 This was 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

That’s all that it took and the man was able to walk again. But the all the Pharisees cared about was that the man was carrying his bed on the Sabbath.

5. A Woman with a Disabling Spirit

Where: A synagogue in an unknown location

Bible passage: Luke 13:10-17

There was this woman who was a hunchback for 18 years due to a disabling spirit.

And Christ simply laid his hands on her and the woman was immediately made straight and she glorified God.

6. A Man with Dropsy

Where: Unknown

Bible passages: Luke 14:1-6

Jesus healed this man suffering from dropsy as an example of how two-faced the Pharisees were.

And in case you’re wondering, dropsy is a type of edema, which is characterized by watery fluid build-up in the tissues or cavities of the body.

One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away. And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son[a] or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” And they could not reply to these things. Luke 14:1-6

7. A Man Blind Since Birth

Where: Jerusalem

Bible passage: John 9:1-7

This example is rather intriguing since Christ healed a man born blind and people back then thought that sin caused health issues.

But since this man was born this way, the disciples asked the Lord if it was the man who sinned or his parents.

And Jesus’ reply was quite powerful: “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

This was also the only miraculous healing that Jesus performed on someone who was born with a disease.

What Did Jesus Say About Healing on the Sabbath?

Jesus obviously had quite a few things to say to the Pharisees and Jews who were mad at him for healing on the Sabbath and here are the best examples of what he had to say about it:

In Matthew 12:10 we find that the Pharisees asked Jesus if it’s lawful to heal on the Sabbath.

Jesus’ reply is in the next two verses and it goes like this:

He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

That’s quite logical and self-explanatory right there!

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So, the Pharisees accused Jesus’ disciples of breaking the Sabbath law because they were plucking heads of grain.

And Jesus told them the story of David eating the bread of the Presence as he was hungry, although only the priests could eat from it.

But Christ also told them that:

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27-28

The Jews were persecuting Jesus because he was still healing on the Sabbath and Christ simply told them:

“My Father is working until now, and I am working.” John 5:17, ESV

Not only did Jesus break their distorted Sabbath interpretation, but he also made himself equal with God by calling God his Father.

Jesus Heals on the Sabbath: Summary

So, did Jesus heal on the Sabbath? Yes, he did.

Did Jesus break God’s Sabbath law? No, he didn’t.

All that he broke was the Pharisees corrupt interpretation of the law that was full of man-made traditions and rules.

It’s safe to say that according to the Bible, Jesus healed on the Sabbath to:

  • Expose the hypocrisy of the Pharisees regarding keeping the Sabbath holy
  • Confront them over their corrupt interpretation of God’s Laws
  • Proclaim Himself Lord of the Sabbath, thus claiming to be equal with God
  • Provide the ultimate sacrifice for our sins by getting the Pharisees so angry at him that they’d have him crucified

Is your Faith Founded on Fact? Have you committed to follow Jesus?

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