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Knowing Jesus – Why Did the Lord Jesus Work on the Sabbath?
By Wang Hao
There are the following scriptures recorded in the Bible, “At that time Jesus went on thethrough the corn; and his disciples were an hungered, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, Behold, your disciples do that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath day” (Mat 12:1-2). Yet the Lord , “But I say to you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if you had known what this means, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” (Mat 12:6-8). Whenever I saw these scriptures, I couldn’t help but think: The Sabbath was the holy day made by Jehovah God for the Israelites. On that day, everyone would stop working and go to the temple to worship Jehovah God. However, when the Lord Jesus came, He did His work on the Sabbath. Why didn’t He lead His disciples to keep the Sabbath? What’s the intention of the Lord Jesus by doing so? These problems were always disturbing me.
Later, on the gospel website I saw a passage in which God’s meaning in these scriptures was explained. Until then, I suddenly came to realize: As a matter of fact, it was meaningful for the Lord Jesus to choose to work on the Sabbath. That passage of words said, “When the Lord Jesus came, He used His practical actions to communicate to people: God had departed the Age of Law and had begun new work, and this new work did not require observation of the Sabbath; when God came out from the confines of the Sabbath day, this was just a foretaste of His new work, and His truly great work was continuing to play out. When the Lord Jesus began His work, He had already left behind the shackles of the Age of Law, and had broken through the regulations and principles from that age. In Him, there was no trace of anything related to the law; He had cast it off entirely and no longer observed it, and He no longer required mankind to observe it. So here you see that the Lord Jesus went through the corn fields on the Sabbath; the Lord did not rest, but was outside working. This action of His was a shock to people’s conceptions and communicated to them that He no longer lived under the law, and that He had left the confines of the Sabbath and appeared in front of mankind and in their midst in a new image, with a new way of working. This action of His told people that He had brought with Him new work that began with going out from the law and going out of the Sabbath. When God carried out His new work, He no longer clung to the past, and He was no longer concerned about the regulations of the Age of Law. Neither was He affected by His work in the previous age, but He worked as usual on the Sabbath and when His disciples were hungry, they could pick ears of corn to eat. This was all very normal in God’s eyes. God could have a new beginning for much of the work that He wants to do and the things that He wants to say. Once He has a new start, He neither mentions His previous work again nor continues it. For God has His principles in His work. When He wants to begin new work, it is when He wants to bring mankind into a new stage of His work, and when His work has entered a higher phase. If people continue to act according to the old sayings or regulations or continue to hold fast to them, He will not commemorate or praise this. This is because He has already brought new work, and has entered a new phase of His work. When He initiates new work, He appears to mankind with a completely new image, from a completely new angle, and in a completely new way so that people can see different aspects of His disposition and what He has and is. This is one of His goals in His new work. God does not hold on to the old or take the beaten path; when He works and speaks it’s not as prohibitive as people imagine. In God, all is free and liberated, and there is no prohibitiveness, no constraints—what He brings to mankind is all freedom and liberation. He is a living God, a God who genuinely, truly exists. He is not a puppet or a clay sculpture, and He is totally different from the idols that people enshrine and worship. He is living and vibrant and what His words and work bring to humans is all life and light, all freedom and liberation, because He holds the truth, the life, and the way—He is not constrained by anything in any of His work … No matter which new stage of His work He is carrying out, it must be developed and expanded in mankind’s midst, and it must be carried out unhindered in the entire universe until His great work has been completed. This is God’s almightiness and wisdom, and His authority and power. Thus, the Lord Jesus could openly go out and work on the Sabbath because in His heart there were no rules, and there was no knowledge or doctrine that originated from mankind. What He had was God’s new work and His way, and His work was the way to free mankind, to release them, to allow them to exist in the light, and to allow them to live …God has principles in His words and work, but there are no prohibitions, because God Himself is the truth, the way, and the life” (“God’s work, God’s disposition and God Himself Ⅲ”).
From this passage, I understood that when the Lord Jesus came, He didn’t observe the Sabbath but used His practical actions to tell people at that time: God had departed the Age of Law and did a stage of new and improved form of work. What’s more, this new work did not require observation of the Sabbath. Plucking the ears of corn and to eat was outrageous to people at that time. However, the Lord Jesus just told the people at the time through this thing that He had no longer lived under the law, but had brought with His new work that began with going out of the Sabbath. So long as people followed the step of God’s work in the new age, they could get the salvation of God. From this thing, we could also see that God has His principles in His work: When God initiates His new work, the old one has concluded. He does different work in different ages, brings the new working methods and makes new requirements of man, thus man will have a new and improved seeing and knowledge of God. The Lord Jesus said, “That in this place is one greater than the temple … the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.” These words were a testimony that God had come into flesh and become the Son of man, who was no longer a vague God in heaven people imagined. People should not consider the temple to be greater than God, but directly worship the incarnate God on earth, who was the Lord of the Sabbath. In addition, the work done by the Lord Jesus couldn’t be understood by the people under the law. Nevertheless, no matter what people thought and discussed, and no matter how they resisted and opposed, He did His work without the slightest hesitancy. From above, we could see there are no prohibitions in God’s work. God is always new and never old. He does His new work according to the needs of mankind. Although the new work is, for man, difficult to understand and accept, since it can save mankind, God is not concerned about this much.
When the Lord Jesus came, He began to spread the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17), from which we know He no longer clung to the doctrines under the law, but took people out of the law and into the new way of the Holy Spirit, guiding a new way of practice for man. For instance, as long as people confessed sins and repented, they could have their sins forgiven, and no longer be condemned by the law, thereby being redeemed by the Lord from the law. When the Lord Jesus came to do His work, though He thoroughly broke through the rules of the Judaism, He bestowed upon mankind grace of redemption. On account of the new work brought by the Lord, people could be saved from the law. However, those chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees served Jehovah God in the temple generation after generation, relying on their own brain, knowledge and doctrines of the Bible, condemned and judged the Lord Jesus with the excuse: The Lord Jesus didn’t preach in the temple but in the wilderness or countryside; He didn’t keep the Sabbath, but took His disciples to pluck the ears of corn and to eat on the Sabbath. Although they saw the Lord Jesus did God’s work that could not do by any single person, they still insisted that so long as His name was not Messiah, He was not the appearance of God. Besides, they wantonly slandered and condemned the Lord Jesus, and collaborated the Roman government to crucify the innocent Lord Jesus to the cross alive. Consequently, the entire Jewish nation was subjected to unprecedented destruction, which was the serious result caused by their defining the work of God with notions and imaginations. It is seen that the more God’s work conflicts with man’s conceptions, the more there is the truth to be sought. No matter how God works and speaks, man should not measure and define with his brain, knowledge, theory or conceptions.
God’s wisdom surpasses the heavens. God’s work oversteps us humans’ imagination. God’s Spirit moves among the heavens and earth and all things, observing everything. His Spirit can also assume a flesh, uttering, and saving us among man. Every word and stage of work of God contain God’s thoughts, and are salvation for man. What we need to do is to seek, investigate, comprehend rather than to misunderstand or even condemn!
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