Jesus broke the Sabbath - or did He?
Jesus broke the Sabbath and told a man to sin – or did He? Situation: Some people say Yeshua/Jesus did away with the Sabbath and even broke it. They present John 5:1-15 & 18 saying Yeshua not only broke the Sabbath by working on it but commanded the man He healed to sin by telling him to carry his mat on the Sabbath; which is against the torah/commandments of God. John 5:18 says the following… “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.” However is this really the case? Did Yeshua break the Sabbath? Did He really command a person to ‘sin’? Let us look at the scriptures and see what we find.
Reply: Scripture states "in Him (Yeshua) there was no sin" ref. 2 Corinthians 5:21. Sin is the transgression of the commandments, God’s torah, ref. 1 John 4:3. Since that is the case and the Sabbath was a commandment, we can conclude that He observed the Sabbath and did not break it.
If that is not enough we do see Yeshua observing the Sabbath as He was Lord of the Sabbath ref. Matthew 12:8.
He observed and healed on the Sabbath ref. Matthew 12:9-12. He concluded that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. Never did He rebuke anyone for observing the Sabbath (though He did rebuke the Pharisees for their man-made Sabbath laws) or say that the Sabbath would be done away with.
In Mark 1:21 Yeshua not only observed the Sabbath in the synagogue but taught on the Sabbath too.
In Mark 6:2 He again observed and taught on the Sabbath in the synagogue. We also see this in Luke 4:16, 21.
In all the gospels Yeshua was never accused of breaking the Sabbath or teaching against it. What He was accused of was breaking & rebuking the Pharisees of their man-made traditions that were in addition to the Sabbath commandments of the Lord.
I think what it comes down to is what the torah says and how it can be interpreted versus the additional walls that the Pharisees and scribes placed around the torah. In the commandments about the Sabbath we see the following.
Exodus 31:12-17 "You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore it is holy to you.... Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest..."
I think we need to ask, what is ‘work’? In the Hebrew, the word for ‘work’ is melakah. In Strong’s concordance its H4399 and it means occupation, work or business. In a business one is compensated for their work.
When we look at what happened in the other six days of this man's life, his normal 'work day' was waiting by the pool (and I don’t think he was compensated for doing so). So can carrying a mat after he has been healed be considered work? I don't think so (but that is my interpretation). The concept of 'work' is something that one does and receives compensation for, i.e. business. Did the man get compensated for carrying his mat? Was there monetary or material gain in carrying his mat? No, that was not the case.
I also think that work is subjective. Case in point, my wife works at a local hospice. For some of the elderly it takes great effort/work to just eat and drink. So does that mean these people who make great efforts to drink a glass of water, are they breaking the Sabbath? I don't think so because food and water are essential to life and there is no monetary gain involved. In the same manner Yeshua brought life to this man and telling him to carry his mat was not work in the sense that it was not too much for him to do and or that it would bring the man material gain.
I also think Yeshua addressed those that accused Him of breaking the Sabbath later in John 7:21-24 where He compared healing, good works, etc. with other torah observances on the Sabbath.
"Yeshua answered and said to them 'I did one work, and you all marvel. Moses therefore gave you circumcision and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If a man received circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? Do not judge according to appearance but judge with righteous judgment.'"
So we see that Yeshua did not break the Sabbath, the man did not by carrying his mat nor did Yeshua command anyone to sin (break a commandment of God.