Jesus Christ's Example
Mark's gospel gives an account of the beginning of Christ's ministry and the gospel He taught. Repeatedly, Jesus says His gospel came directly from God the Father; it is God's message to mankind! Mark 1:1 says, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a gospel from men about the person of Christ. The "gospel of Christ" is Christ's gospel, the gospel Christ preached. It is the good news of salvation God sent by Jesus for mankind!
". . . Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom [or government] of God," calling on men to repent and believe (verses 14-15). What should they believe? In the gospel that Jesus brought from God (verse 15; John 14:10)!
As part of that gospel, Jesus Christ has a great deal to say and to teach about the Sabbath and its observance. Christ and His disciples "went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught" (Mark 1:21). It is Jesus' "custom"—His habit or manner—to attend the synagogue services on the Sabbath (Luke 4:16; Mark 6:2).
This is not some Judaic tradition that He followed because of the culture of the time. He speaks out quite forcefully against following the "traditions of men" when they are at variance with the "commandments of God" (Matthew 15:3, 6; Mark 7:7, 9, 13), which are still very much in effect!
Understand, neither the Sabbath nor the annual holy days are "Jewish" in origin, as the commands to keep them come directly from the mouth of God (Exodus 20:1; Leviticus 23:1). Moreover, He never gives any indication of changing them. That the Jews of Christ's time and today observe the Sabbath makes it no more "Jewish" than their observing the commandment against adultery makes marital fidelity a "Jewish tradition"! It could only be classified as Jewish if it had originated with the Jews.
In the gospels, Jesus Christ has many disputes with the Jews, a number of which involve the Sabbath day. But they never disagree about which day is to be kept, only over what is acceptable for that day.
For example, when Jesus and His disciples walk through the grainfields on the Sabbath day (Mark 2:23), the Pharisees accuse the disciples of breaking the Sabbath by plucking ears of grain to eat. They agree on which day should be kept, but they question whether the disciples' behavior is appropriate.
Christ settles the question about what is proper on the Sabbath, and in doing so, He also asserts, first, that the Sabbath was made for all mankind, not merely the Jews (verse 27), and second, that He is "Lord of the Sabbath" (verse 28). Thus, any change to the Sabbath commandment must come from Him!
The Pharisees also condemn Christ for healing on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:10-12; Luke 13:14-15; John 5:9-10). Christ shows that they misunderstand the intent of the Sabbath day, not the day to keep it. Had Christ proposed changing the Sabbath, what a tremendous uproar would have ensued!
When examining the life of our Savior, it is evident that Jesus Christ kept the seventh-day Sabbath. He is the Lord—master, supreme authority—of the Sabbath day and gives no instruction to change it. After His death, the apostles and the church also kept it holy. Through His example, we know that Christians must still keep the seventh-day Sabbath!
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