What is Lawful on the Sabbath?

Mark 3:1-6

 1Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.


The Jewish leaders have been asking questions about Jesus and what He is doing. We have seen that Mark is testifying to WHO Jesus is in these interactions. He has unique authority from God. He is able to teach, heal, deliver, forgive sins and define what is lawful on the Sabbath.

In our story today Jesus challenges the Jewish Leaders to recognize what is good, to define what is legal in terms of what is good. They fail miserably.

Our goal is not to judge them, but to look at our own lives and avoid the same problems!


  1. I am going to use the word Sabbath. By that I mean a day of rest. I am not indicating the day.
  2. And I also want to emphasize a day of worship. But Jesus expands those things to every day as a day of resting from our works and walking in His.
  3. The ultimate goal of Sabbath is in making all of our lives, every day and every part of every day an act of worship.

We have seen Jesus being questioned over and over:

  1. Why does Jesus claim to forgive sins?
  2. Why does Jesus fellowship with sinners?
  3. Why don’t the Disciples fast like other disciples?
  4. Why do the Disciples do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?

Now Jesus will ask the Jewish Leaders a question. The goal is to get them to think about the way that they are applying the law. Love God, Love Neighbor, Do what is good.


  1. Jesus Questions the Leaders
  2. There are real needs that require action

        The man with the shriveled hand has a real need that Jesus can   meet.

Jesus is only in one place at a time. Healing as a sign. Healing as a blessing.

Where in Scripture does it say that healing is not allowed on the Sabbath? The answer is in the idea of work being to bring order from chaos. This is what healing is doing. It is bringing this man’s life back into order. What is the greater law?


  1. Are we called to nothing?

Ephesians 2:10 We are created to do good works.

We need rest.

The Sabbath is a gift.

The Sabbath is a requirement.

The Sabbath was a day set aside for worship. To not set aside a   day for worship is not a strength!

Is Jesus acting outside of the spirit of Sabbath in healing this       man?

Luke 13: 10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”

17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.


  1. There is a time for every activity

        Wisdom tells us what time it is. There is relativity in this.

BUT there is no relativity with regard to doing what is good! We are always to do what is good!!!

You can’t heal on the Sabbath, but you can plot to kill Jesus on the Sabbath!

John 9: 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”

But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?”



  1. The Real Reason for Conflict
  2. Are we willing to submit to Jesus?

Jesus is fulfilling the law. Jesus is the prophet like Moses. Jesus is greater than Moses, greater than Abraham etc. If you don’t agree that He is the Anointed One of God, the Unique Son of God, then you will not submit to Him.

Jesus is calling people to a way of living that is different from the Jewish leaders!

Matthew 5:

20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.


This by the way is why I want you to respond to Jesus in your life and not to me. I want to connect you to Jesus. The Bible judges us, the Bible instructs us. It says “No. Don’t do that.” Is says, “Yes. Do that.” But we will always need wisdom.


  1. Thinking and Acting

The Sabbath has to be managed in this way. Jesus does not do what we think. How do we resolve this? We are called to use Jesus as our lens through which we understand these issues. And so, with reference to the law, Jesus extends it:

Murder to anger and respect

Adultery to marital faithfulness, faithfulness to God’s design and managing sexual desire

Bearing false witness to having actions and words match with goodness

Loving enemies as our neighbor. (God and Good Samaritan as examples) Treating others as we would like to be treated.

Giving, Fasting and Prayer are to be different than the Jewish Leaders do.

Jesus’ ministry establishes a new covenant. Many of the things in the Old Covenant that the people area called to do are changed by Jesus because Jesus is seen as that to which the Old Covenant activity pointed to. But if you reject Jesus, then what He claims is the destruction of your faith.

Muslims have a very respectful view of Jesus. They believe that He was a prophet who did miracles. They do not believe that He was the Son of God, God incarnate. Because of this they have a different “prophet” who is to lead them.


  1. Are we against God?

We can be against God by making too little of the Sabbath

We can be against God by making too much of the Sabbath

The Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

The solution to Sabbath is to make more of Jesus!!!!

(Story of guy in the OT killed for gathering wood.) It was not necessary for him to gather wood. He was ignoring God’s call for rest!

Numbers 15:32-36


III. Be Good All of the Time

  1. Reflect God’s image today

Jesus is the image of the invisible God.

Jesus is the Creator of all made as a man

Jesus is the only true example of what a human being is to be

Study and copy Jesus!


  1. Plotting to murder God’s Son

        This is the end result of Jesus’ question to them. They do not answer the question because they know that they are wrong. They are unwilling to adjust their lives. They work instead to remove the question by killing the questioner. This is the elimination of speech instead of the idea. It does not work. This is weakness.

Religious people often work in opposition to God. Religious Beast (False Prophet) in Revelation. And Jesus says many very negative things about the Jewish leaders.

Parable of the rebellious tenants.

Matthew 23

Identifying then with those who oppose God. (The same theme is carried forward after the Resurrection. Acts 7 the end of Stephen’s sermon:

51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— 53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”


  1. Participating in God’s Kingdom

This begins with repentance. All of our lives are available to God for Him to use us as He pleases. Each circumstance is to be submitted to Christ. We are yoked with Him. This is our Sabbath.

Colossians 2: For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised…

Your whole self, ruled by the flesh, was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,

16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.