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Matthew 12:1 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!”
3 But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 “how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?
5 “Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? 6 “Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. 7 “But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.
8 “For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
9 Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. 10 And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”–that they might accuse Him.
11 Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12 “Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
13 Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other.
There are 7 healings recorded in the Gospels, that Jesus healed on the day of the Sabbath – that was the holy day of the week for the Jews, in which no man was allowed to do any work. It was a day dedicated to God. They are listed here below in the probable sequence in which they occurred.
The full account of the 1st of these 7 stories is the text above, which includes important words of Jesus that help us understand the significance of the Sabbath and its relation to the subject of healing, which is the central theme of this series of articles.
The Healings of Jesus on the Sabbath in the Gospels
- Matthew 12:9-13 also in Mark 3:1-5 and Luke 6:6-10
A man whose right hand was withered (in a Synagogue in the Galilee)
- Mark 1:21-27 also in Luke 4:33-36
A man with an unclean spirit (in the Synagogue of Capernaum, in the Galilee)
- Matthew 8:14-15 also in Mark 1:29-31 and Luke 4:38-39
Simon’s mother-in-law healed of fever (after the Synagogue of Capernaum)
- Luke 13:10-17
Woman with infirmity, bent over for 18 years, bound by Satan (in the Galilee)
- Luke 14:1-6
Man with dropsy (possibly in Jerusalem, or nearby on the way there from Galilee)
- John 5:1-14
Man with infirmity for 38 years (at Bethesda pool in Jerusalem)
- John 9:13-16
Opening up the eyes of beggar who was born blind (in Jerusalem)
Each of these 7 reports contains powerful material for our edification, but we shall not work on each one of them in detail in this article (it is good to study them on our own). Here we want to have a bird’s eye view of the healings on the Sabbath.
This will hopefully help us build the understanding of what the Holy Spirit wants to teach us on how healing-by-faith and the Sabbath are related.
This article is NOT a teaching on the principle of the Sabbath – which is a highly disputed subject, because of great diversity of perspectives about it. If you are interested in a teaching that I have done on the Sabbath in a past article, you may find a link at the end.
Why did Jesus do those healings on the Sabbath?
The message that is given through the main Bible portion of this article (above), specifically from Matthew 12:1 to verse 8 (which precedes the story of the healing of the man with the withered hand), is to reveal the true nature of the Sabbath:
-> a day in which God wants to do good to man
-> a day in which Jesus is revealed to be the Lord
In this portion of Scripture Jesus does two things simultaneously, which we need to perceive as God’s heart for the Sabbath – and therefore, by implication, as God’s heart in regards to healing – in general, and, specifically through the principle of the Sabbath.
-> Jesus abolished the concept of the Sabbath as a religious obligation that must be observed as a legal requirement that God imposed upon men
-> Jesus elevated the Sabbath as a spiritual principle that reveals the heart of God to do good to man, and more specifically, through Jesus who is the Lord of the Sabbath.
God gave the Sabbath to do good to man
That was/is the purpose of the Sabbath, of which Jesus said “the son of man is also the Lord of the Sabbath”. On the one hand, Jesus did some of the healings on the Sabbath purposefully to expose and judge the religious rulers for their sin (we spoke about that in the previous article).
On the other hand, by doing the healings purposefully on the Sabbath, Jesus wanted to show that God instituted the Sabbath to be a time that is good and beneficial to man, not just a time of religious observance.
God instituted the Sabbath as a day of dedication for the purpose of meeting with the Lord, so that it may be a day that is full of God’s Presence and Power.
When we lift up Jesus, who is the Lord of the Sabbath, to be the Lord of the day that we dedicate to Him, He responds with His Presence and Power in our lives.
Sabbath is a day to draw close to the Lord
There are some cases of healing by faith in the Name of Jesus which never seem to happen, even though there is correct teaching and faith for it. Sometimes that is because it takes more than just prayer and faith. In some cases, it takes prayer and dedication in order to draw closer to the Lord; fasting also helps very much in that process.
When we offer this special time/day of dedication, waiting for Him, praying and seeking His Face (also with the additional power that is released through fasting), then His Presence becomes manifest and His Power is released.
When simple prayer of/with faith is not enough, this additional act of worship to draw closer to the Lord, is how the power of healing can be released to our mortal bodies which suffer the consequences of this fallen world of sin…
This would be one way to apply and put to practice the word of Isaiah 30:15 For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”…
“Return to the Lord” means to draw close to Him again (e.g. when we have become cold and distant, and our faith needs a fresh refill). “To rest in the Lord” means to stop from our works and take time to wait on Him, in prayer (also with the additional help that comes through fasting, which releases more power in the spirit).
A day of “quietness” is a Sabbath, when we abstain from works and take time to be with the Lord. The result of such an act of worship on our part is that “confidence” is built up inside of us by the Spirit of God, which fills us up with His strength, hence “in quietness and confidence shall be your strength” – whose strength? His strength!
Based on some prophetic words given for specific cases of illness in the past, I would also go so far as to say, that God has determined the power for healing in certain cases to be released only on a day of dedication and meeting with the Lord, which is what the principle of the “Sabbath” is all about. That is also written, where Jesus said:
This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting
Mark 9:28 And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”
That was the case of a boy that Jesus healed of a deaf and dumb spirit (verse 25). When the disciples of Jesus commanded it to go it did not obey them. When they asked Jesus why, in effect it was like He said “you need to offer a time to wait on God and pray persistently, before more of His power is released that can cast out such a spirit” – i.e. the act of worship that involves persistent prayer (for which fasting helps a lot), will release the power that is needed for this kind of healing.
This is exactly what the principle of the Sabbath is all about!
It is also the same spiritual principle which can help us understand the words of Paul to married couples, when he said: 1 Corinthians 7:5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment.
There are cases of adversity which are hard to overcome by faith. When our faith fails us, it is time to be filled with God’s faith, as Jesus said:
Mark 11:22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have God’s faith (see End Note). 23 “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.
This is easy to say, and religious fantasy of speaking to the mountains of our lives is cheap… but in reality and in practice, how can we bring ourselves to a place where our faith is no longer the result of our own strength, but that we may become filled by God’s faith which is greater than the physical, natural circumstances of our life (which can be a cancer or some other terminal disease)?
When you believe that you can command mountains to be removed, and then one day you realise that the “mountain” of cancer, or other health challenges, does not seem to pay any attention to your words, it is time to consider that the words of Jesus in the Bible require deeper understanding of the Kingdom principles which are needed to bring His Word to life – that believing His words is not just an intellectual exercise, but actually requires certain actions and disciplines of faith.
The answer is in the principle of the Sabbath – a day of dedication, rest, prayer with fasting, a day of seeking the Lord… that is when His Presence and Power is released from heaven in response to our worship.
Sabbath is a day that we choose to place our confidence in Him while waiting upon Him in quietness… a day when we lift Him up as Lord!
Because… Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath – a day when God’s healing is released, as 7 stories in the Gospels teach us that “Sabbath is a day to do good to man”!
END NOTE on “Have God’s faith” versus “have faith in God”:
You may read a study on this subject in this article
Jesus said “have God’s faith”!
-> This article neither promotes nor advocates the weekly observance of the Sabbath as a religious requirement. All references to the “Sabbath” in this article are with direct reference to the spiritual concept of a Day of Dedication to the Lord with prayer – also with the additional, voluntary act of worship of fasting.
-> At the same time that does not mean that we oppose or disregard the weekly dedication of the Sabbath and/or the observance of the Sabbaths which are part of the annual Feasts of the Lord – which are acts of worship.
Our official position on the Sabbath is explained in depth in this article:
Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath
This series on the subject of (supernatural) Healing (by faith, through prayer) is directly related to the person of Jesus Christ, and serves the following purpose(s):
-> to equip with Scriptural knowledge and understanding of God’s Truth
-> to build unshakeable faith that God is able and willing to heal in the Name of Jesus
-> to help explain some of the complexity involved and give some answers to “why not”
Links to the previous articles of this series:
Jesus Healing (1) Experience brings the Bible to life
Jesus Healing (2) There is Power in the Name of Jesus
Jesus Healing (3) “Do you believe I am able to do this”?
Jesus Healing (4) The blind man of John 9 (part 1)
Jesus Healing (5) The blind man of John 9 (part 2)