Summary: Jesus questioned regarding the Sabbath. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:


(1). The Sabbath:

(2). In the field (vs 23-28):

(3). In the synagogue (vs 1-6):



• A student sat through an exam;

• The teacher supervising said time up but still the student carried on.

• The teacher said; “Hand your exam paper in now or I’m not going to accept it.”

• Still the student carried on.

• Thirty minutes later the student got up and stood before the teacher;

• The teacher looked at him and said; “I am not going to accept your paper it is late”.

• The student looked the teacher in the eye and said; “Do you know who I am?”

• The teacher replied “No, and I don’t really care!”

• For a second time the student said; “Do you know who I am?”

• For a second the teacher replied “No!”

• The student replied; “Good”,

• He then lifted the stack of exams, stuffed his paper in the middle, & ran out of the room.

The reason Jesus faces so much opposition in this chapter is the religious leaders do not know who he really is:

• They assume he is a carpenter turned itinerant preacher;

• They have yet to realise he is the Son of God.

• They opposed him in verses 1-12;

• Because they just saw him as a man who claimed the authority to forgives sins.

• They opposed him in verses 13-22;

• Because they saw making friends & associating with sinful people.

• They opposed him now in verses 23-28;

• Because he brings freedom from rules & regulations.


• It might surprise you to know;

• That the most popular tourist attraction in Northern England is Hadrian's Wall.

• The wall was built as a defensive fortification.

• They began building in AD 122, during the rule of emperor Hadrian,

• The wall was the most heavily fortified border in the Roman Empire.

• It ran 80 Roman miles (73 statute miles) from coast to coast.

• A significant portion of the wall still exists today;

• Particularly the mid-section.

Walls of course separate and divide and the Pharisees of Jesus day knew the value of a good wall:

• In fact they built them and they built them well;

• Not physical walls like Hadrian’s, but symbolic walls.

• Let me explain;

• To stop people breaking God’s law they simply built a wall around it.


• Suppose God had said that all Church platforms were out of bounds to non preachers;

• Now if you broke that rule and stood on the platform – deliberately or by accident;

• You would be in big trouble! We’re talking mega big trouble.

• Now because the leaders of this Church like you the congregation;

• And are concerned for you safety!

• The leaders of the Church have a bright idea (it does happen now & again!)

• To try and protect you and stop you accidentally breaking that rule, that law;

• They have decided to build a wall of protection around that law.

• The guarding wall will be the front row;

• No-one is aloud beyond that point.

• Now if someone accidentally strays beyond that point;

• Hopefully one of the leaders can stop them before they reach the platform.

• That way, all they will ever do is break the lesser rule i.e. front row.

• And not the more important rule i.e. standing on the platform.

• Now hopefully that illustration with help you understand the logic of the Pharisees;

• To stop people breaking God’s law they simply walled it off;

• But the sad part of their plan is that the ‘walls’ that the Pharisees built;

• Soon became as important as the laws they were trying to protect.

• And the laws they introduced to protect people;

• Soon became laws that trapped people.

The highest and most guarded of the Pharisees' walls concerned the Sabbath.


• I like the story of the student who was taking an exam;

• To see if he was suitable for confirmation.

• He was asked to list the Ten Commandments in any order he liked;

• So he wrote, "3, 6, 1, 8, 4, 5, 9, 2, 10, 7."

• Well to the Pharisees (religious leaders);

• The commandment regarding the Sabbath was very, very important!

• In fact for God’s one commandment “Keep the Sabbath holy”

• They had added over six hundred rules of their own!

• For the Pharisees the Sabbath was their ‘sacred cow’;

• Regarding Sabbath they would not compromise or budge!

• And it would be on this issue ‘understanding the Sabbath’;

• That Jesus and His critics fought their most intense battles.

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