First Congregational Church
164 Deer Hill Ave.
Danbury, CT 06810
Phone:(203) 744-6177

Jesus the Sabbath Law Breaker

Random works of kindness and senseless beauty on the sabbath.

Rev. Dr. Pat Kriss(Posted May 30, 2024)

"Like the Sabbath, the week originated at creation … Six days were employed in the work of creation; upon the seventh, God rested, and he then blessed this day, and set it apart as a day of rest for man."  —Ellen White, American Author

While the people of Judea knew Jesus by a few names, like “Jesus the healer,” or “Jesus who walked on water,” to the Pharisees Jesus was known by another name: Jesus the Law Breaker.

You see, to the priests and leaders of the Jewish Temple, the most important responsibility they had before the eyes of God was to keep the laws, the commandments that they had interpreted God had given them as a part of the Divine Covenant with the people. Front and center on the stony tablet of the Ten Commandments is, Remember the Sabbath Day, to Keep It Holy.

How to Keep the Sabbath Holy

How do you keep a day holy? By devoting at least part of it in thanksgiving to God. To do that, you need to truly make it a day free from labor, free from the kind of day-to-day distractions that remove our minds from concentration on God’s incredible, generous universe.

But Jesus, being a practical Savior, realized that sometimes life’s priorities require an adjustment to that hidebound rule, especially when those priorities mean being more compassionate to others.

Breaking a human law, to Jesus, has less significance when someone’s life needs to be mended.

The Work of Mending Lives on the Sabbath

On this particular Sabbath Day, Jesus was walking with his disciples, hungry, in the grainfields. It was the custom of the day to leave scraps and sprigs of wheat in the already stripped field so that widows and children who had no source of food could “glean” what little grain was left.

Jesus and his band plucked a few grains of this wheat which, in the eyes of the pharisees, was “working on the Sabbath.” When these priests scolded him for this, Jesus said, "The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath."

Strike one on this Sabbath day.

An Act of Compassionate Work on a Sabbath

Then when Jesus entered the Synagogue to pray, he met up with a man with a withered hand, looking for healing. And, of course, Jesus healed him there, in front of the Pharisees.

Of course they howled their opposition to someone breaking the law with an act of compassion – after all healing is “working on the Sabbath.”  Jesus the law breaker earned their contempt and their plot to destroy him.

Unfortunately, “no good deed goes unpunished” is too often part of religious hypocrisy, and something we all must guard against. I hope you’ll plan on joining us for your Sabbath, when we’ll discuss the many ways you can “turn on the holy” in your precious day of rest.


First Congregational Church
164 Deer Hill Ave.
Danbury, CT 06810
Est. 1696

Phone: (203) 744-6177

Office Hours:
Monday Closed
Tuesday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Wednesday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Thursday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Friday Closed

Thrift Shop Hours:
Saturday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Sunday Worship:
Sunday   10:00 a.m.–11 a.m.


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