The Lord of the Sabbath
Luke 6:1 11
Conflict was a regular part of the life of our Lord. Most of His conflict was with the religious leaders of His day. They
accused Him of not keeping the law that God had given. This was especially true of the law of the Sabbath. Luke
brings before us two such occasions of conflict in our text.
The Jewish leaders had made the Sabbath a heavy burden to be borne. They carried the word that forbids work on
the Sabbath to ridiculous extremes. Jesus and His disciples violated one of these extremes on a Sabbath day. They
were walking by a grain field on the Sabbath day, and did a very natural thing. They plucked some heads of wheat
into their hands, rubbed their hands together to remove the grain from the husks, and then ate the fresh grain.
This violated at least two of the rules of the leaders. To pluck the grain was determined to be harvesting. To rub
the grain in the hand was determined to be threshing. Both of these violated the rules of the day.
The other incident related to the man with the crippled hand. Under the law, as they interpreted it, it was unlawful to
heal on the Sabbath day unless it was a matter of life or death. If it could be determined that the life was at stake, it
was permissible to heal the sick. Since this man was obviously not sick unto death, only crippled in body, such an
action would violate their rules.
It was against the background of this kind of criticism that Jesus said, "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."
This was a bold and meaningful claim by our Lord. The title "Son of Man" was given by Daniel. It was a title for the
heavenly Messiah. It was our Lord's favorite title for Himself. The Sabbath was a divine institution. For Jesus to
claim Lordship over the Sabbath was for Him to identify Himself with the Giver of the Sabbath in a unique way.
There are some great lessons for us in this title which our Lord claims for Himself. He is indeed the Lord of the
Sabbath, and the Lord over our lives.
I. THE LORD OF THE SABBATH ANNOUNCES HIS AUTHORITY.
Jesus did not restrain His disciples from gathering some grain on the Sabbath. Rather He seems to have approved
their actions as being consistent with the divine purpose for the Sabbath. In response to the accusation of the
Pharisees, Jesus makes this bold claim, "The Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath." We have used that title
"Lord" so often that is has become for us nothing more than a proper name. Its significance goes much deeper
than that. It was a straightforward claim to authority over the Sabbath on the part of Jesus.
His authority is rooted in His ownership. "Lord" carried this kind of force with it. When Jesus claimed to be the Lord
of the Sabbath, He was claiming to be the Giver and the Owner of the Sabbath. It was a strong Messianic statement
on the part of Jesus. This becomes especially clear when you remember that the Sabbath was a divine institution.
Evidently God had established the Sabbath with the first man in the Garden of Eden. At least we know that there
are signs of Sabbath observance that go back to the beginning. It obviously pre dated the giving of the Law of
Moses. Surely whatever a man owns He has authority over it.
Who were these mortal servants that they should try to tell the Owner how He should handle His property? They
did not realize the folly of their actions. Whenever man takes over one of the institutions of God, he will always
corrupt it. We need to remember this as we relate not only to the Sabbath, but to all of the divine institutions. This
would especially be true of our relationship to the church. We must never forget that Jesus Christ still retains the
ownership of the church. As the owner He has absolute authority over the church. We must never presume to
determine what He can do with His church. As the owner He can do with it whatever pleases Him. His authority is
rooted in His ownership.
Do you realize what you are saying when you confess Jesus as Lord of your life? You are acknowledging His
ownership. You are acknowledging that your life is under His absolute authority.
This authority is also based upon relationship. In this claim Jesus is giving a statement about His mission into the
world. He has been sent by the Father to relate to the institutions of God as Lord. To question what He might do
with the Sabbath was to resist His mission in the world. He has been assigned this relationship as Lord.
Jesus has this relationship to everything, especially to man and the institutions and gifts that God has given to Him.
Jesus Christ is Lord. We may never recognize Him as Lord, but He is Lord. Jesus did not say, "The Son of Man
ought to be the Lord of the Sabbath." He is Lord of the Sabbath. The Pharisees who heard this claim never
admitted the truth of it, but this did not change it. You may never admit that Jesus is the only Lord of the church,
but He is. You may never confess Him as the Lord of your life, but He is. He has been assigned this relationship by
the Sovereign God of this universe. As such He has absolute authority over you and yours. It is a forceful
announcement of authority on the part of our Lord.
II. THE LORD OF THE SABBATH DEMONSTRATES HIS WILL.
Jesus came to do more than tell man what he ought to do. God had done this in the giving of the Law at Mount
Sinai. Rather Jesus came to live out the requirements of the Lord God. He came to give a demonstration of
what the Lord requires of His own. This was to be true of the way He related to the Sabbath.
While it is true that we do not observe the Old Testament Sabbath, we do observe the Christian Lord's Gay. The
principles demonstrated in the manner our Lord related to the Sabbath should govern our relationship to the Lord's
Day. There were three basic things demonstrated in the actions of our Lord as set forth by Luke.
Jesus demonstrated that it was proper to use the Sabbath as a time to meet the basic needs of life. While the law
did forbid work on the Sabbath, this was not to prevent man from meeting some basic physical needs of life. Jesus
thought it to be proper to reach out and gather some grain to meet the physical need of the body. He did not think
it to be a violation of the law. While the Lord's Day ought to be a day of rest, and work should be avoided in every
way possible, it is not improper to meet the basic needs of the body. Jesus gave the Sabbath to man as a gift, not
man to the Sabbath. The Sabbath was given by the Lord God to meet the needs of man. This is a basic principle
that you can follow in the observance of the Lord's Day.
Jesus also demonstrated that worship is proper on the Lord's Day. "On another Sabbath he went into the
synagogue and was teaching." This was customary in the life of Jesus. Jesus was a regular attendee in the
synagogue. The Sabbath was best used for rest when a man renewed Himself through worship in the house of
God. You cannot be a follower of Jesus, and not be a regular participant in the public worship of the Lord our God.
We might also be reminded of who was in charge when Jesus went to worship. While it is true that He was often
allowed to be the leader in worship, it was not always true. The very critics who would later call for His death were
the worship leaders when He went. He did not go because they had a popular preacher or scribe. He did not go
because they had an attendance campaign on. Rather He went because He knew this to be the will of the heavenly
Father for man, and because this is God's ordained way of meeting some basic spiritual needs of man. Jesus
demonstrated that worship is to be a regular part of our lives.
Jesus did this without becoming a legalist. He kept the Lord God in the proper place in His heart and life.
Jesus also demonstrated that service to one's fellowman is proper on the Sabbath. Jesus healed the man with the
withered hand. It angered him that the critics would put more importance upon some tradition than they would bring
help and release to a poor man whose life was terribly limited because of this crippled hand. Then Jesus said to
them, ''I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?" Jesus sets
forth a very important principle here. To see an opportunity to do good, and not to do it, is to do evil. All you must
do to do evil is refuse to do good. Furthermore, not to save a life is to destroy a life. If you withhold help, you have
destroyed. While Jesus might break a rule by healing this man on the Sabbath Day, He would be guilty of a greater
transgression if He were to withhold from the man the positive, saving good that He was able to give. The Sabbath
is not a day to be used only for ourselves.
Does this principle help you? If there comes to us an opportunity to do good, we must do it even on the Sabbath,
or Lord's Day.
As we go through this Gospel of Luke, we must see Jesus. He is the theme and message of this book. He is
revealed for who He is. He is the Lord of life. This includes all of the religious institutions of life, but it also includes
all of life. As Lord He has all authority.
He is also a revelation of what we ought to be. He demonstrates in His attitudes and actions a way of life for us. For
those who are serious about walking in His ways, they must study carefully the report of His life. This is especially
true as we relate to the Lord's Day. Will you live this very day like our Lord would have you to live? This is living
under His Lordship!