Summary: Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:

Reading: Luke chapter 6 verses 1-11:


The world's longest fence is found in southern Australia.

• It is a pest-exclusion fence that was built in Australia during the 1880s;

• And finished in 1885,

• It was built to keep dingoes out of the relatively fertile south-east part of the continent;

• (where they had largely been exterminated);

• And protect the sheep flocks of southern Queensland.

• It is one of the longest structures on the planet,

• And the world's longest fence.

• It is known as the Wild Dog Fence or Dingo Fence,

• The Fence is 6 feet high and goes 1 foot under ground.

• It is 5,614 KM long.

The Pharisees of Jesus day knew the value of a good fence:

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

• Not physical fences but symbolic fences.

• Let me explain;

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


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

• Because we like you & are concerned for you the Elders have a bright idea (now & again)

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

• We I will build a fence around that law.

• The guarding fence will be the front row;

• No-one is aloud beyond that point.

• Now if someone accidentally strays beyond that point;

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

• That way, all they will ever do is break our rules;

• And not the more important rule of God – that is keeping away from the platform.

• Now that was the logic of the Pharisees;

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

• But the sad part of their plan is that the ‘fences’ 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.

When that happens,

• People were no longer wrestling with real issues;

• Rather they were forced to fighting mock battles at the new fences we have erected.

• Eventually, the people must have felt;

• Like a wild horse contained in a pig pen;

• So restricted and hemmed in;

• That they were unable to run free in the open ranges of life that God had provided.

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

• 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!

• It is upon this issue in the gospels;

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

(1). The Sabbath:

• It was God himself who gave the nation of Israel the Sabbath law;

• It was one of the ten commandments given by Moses at Mount Sinai (Exodus 20 vs 8-11);

• God made it a sign between Himself and the nation (Exodus 31 vs 12-17).

• “This will be a sign between me and you…..”

The word Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word ‘Shabat’:

• It means ‘to cease’ or ‘to desist’ or ‘to rest’;

• The Sabbath starts 6pm on Friday evening and finishes 6pm on Saturday evening.

• The Sabbath is linked with the fact that after six days of creative work;

• God rested (Genesis chapter 2 verses 2-3).


“Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”

• He sanctified-"set apart"-the seventh day of the week;

• For his people as a time of rest and refreshment.

• They were to ‘cease’ or ‘desist’ from work on that day,

• The point being one day in seven is to be observed as a day holy to God.

The Pharisees interpreted this to mean no work at all on the Sabbath:

• The Pharisees claimed, they were the custodians of the traditions of Moses;

• They believed they had the right to legislate for what people did on the Sabbath.

• In fact the Pharisees had invented over 600 rules and regulations for the Sabbath;

• These included the following:

• Ill: People not allowed to walk more than one kilometre from their own town,

• Ill: They were not allowed to carry a load, or light a fire in the home.

• Ill: You could not even drag a chair; in case it created a groove in the dirt floor;

• And a bird accidentally drop a seed into it, because that would be ploughing!

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