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Sabbath School Lessons on Christ and His Law
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 5: Christ and the Sabbath *
Introduction: The Sabbath is a special time. When I was very young,
it was the day when the family was all together. No doubt there were
times that I wished the Sabbath day would end because my parents
restricted what I could do on the Sabbath. When I was in college, it
was a great day to spend with my girlfriend and not have to study. In
law school and thereafter in life, it was a wonderful time to rest
without guilt. Normally, I've got things to do and deadlines to
meet. But, since I believe that working on Sabbath is a sin, it was a
guilt-free rest. What is the Biblical basis for taking the Sabbath
seriously? How should we view the Sabbath? Let's dive into our Bibles
and find out!
- Creation Sabbath
- Read Genesis 2:1-2. Why do you think God took six days to
create "the heavens and earth ... in all their vast
array?" (Based on the account in Genesis 1, it seems that
God could have done it all instantly. But, He had
something in mind. I suspect it was giving humans a
pattern for work and rest.)
- Read Genesis 2:3. We can all understand the need for rest
after all God accomplished, but why would He "bless" the
seventh day and make it "holy?" (It seems God wanted a
special time to celebrate His work of creation.)
- Read 1 Samuel 7:12-13. Samuel memorialized the Israelite
victory over the Philistines by setting up the Ebenezer
stone. Why? (The people would be reminded of the victory
that God had given them.)
- Is the Ebenezer stone like the Sabbath? (I think it
is exactly the same kind of thing.)
- Read Exodus 20:8-10. Can animals remember the Creation?
Why does God include them? (God wants us to give a rest to
all those within our control. The Sabbath does not depend
on wealth, power or influence. It is for all.)
- Read Exodus 20:11. This is thousands of years after the
Creation. What does this suggest about the Sabbath? (It is
permanent institution memorializing the Creation.)
- Read Deuteronomy 5:12-15. Why does this statement of the
Fourth Commandment give us a different reason for the
Sabbath? (The reason here is that God rescued His people
from Egyptian slavery. This suggests the Sabbath is a
memorial for all God has done for His people - created a
perfect world for them and rescued them from slavery.)
- Read Matthew 27:50-52. We just celebrated Easter. We
recognize this as a text telling us about Jesus'
crucifixion on our behalf. What does this say happened at
the moment of Jesus' death? (Among other things, many
people were raised to life.)
- Assume Jesus was your child, and your child was
terribly brutalized and killed. Assume that at the
same time your child won the Super Bowl of the
universe. If you were God, would you raise Jesus to
life while He was still on the cross - just like
these others were raised to life -- and gloriously
welcome Him to heaven? (Yes, of course we would.)
- Why did God wait until Sunday? (This is exactly
the same pattern we have seen before with the
Sabbath - Jesus rested in the grave on the
Sabbath to memorialize His next great work -
saving us from sin and death. He rested on the
Sabbath to memorialize Creation. He rested on
the Sabbath to memorialize freedom from
Egyptian slavery. He rested on the Sabbath to
memorialize our rescue from the slavery of sin
and our new relationship with God!)
- Read Isaiah 66:22-23. When should we stop observing the
Sabbath? (Never! God tells us that Sabbath observance will
continue in the earth made new.)
- What do you think the Sabbath will stand for then?
(Read Isaiah 66:24. This suggests that we celebrate
God's ultimate victory over the rebellion. Victory
over sin, sickness and death.)
- The Sabbath and Natural Law
- We have previously decided that the moral law (which
includes Sabbath worship) is a map to help us avoid
running into trouble by violating the natural laws of the
universe. How does the Sabbath fit into that logical
- Read Mark 2:23-24. What is the basis for the Pharisees'
charge? (No doubt working on Sabbath.)
- Read Mark 2:25-26. Two weeks ago we heard Jesus give a
similar response. The religious leaders say that His
disciples are violating the law and Jesus responds "you
also violate the law." Do two wrongs make a right?
- What do you think Jesus is really saying? (Jesus is
too smart to respond, "You're one too." He must be
saying that when King David and his companions
satisfied their hunger with consecrated bread this
was appropriate. Thus, Jesus' disciples could satisfy
their hunger on a consecrated day.)
- If hunger trumps consecration, what does that
teach us about the Sabbath and eating?
- Read Mark 2:27-28. What does Jesus mean when He says, "The
Sabbath was made for man?" (The Sabbath is not supposed to
be painful, it is supposed to be a time of joy. It was
made to give us a break from our daily obligations.)
- What point is Jesus making when He says that He ("the
Son of Man") is "Lord even of the Sabbath?" (Jesus
created the Sabbath ( John 1:1-3), and therefore He
gets to authoritatively describe its purpose and how
it should be observed.)
- How does Jesus' statement fit into our understanding
of natural law? (It tells us that everyone needs a
Sabbath rest. Eating is part of that rest.)
- The Sabbath and Healing
- Read Mark 3:1-2. Why would the religious leaders suspect
that Jesus would heal on the Sabbath? (He must have done
it before. Or, at a minimum, they were beginning to
understand Jesus' view of Sabbath-keeping.)
- Read Mark 3:3-4. Why does Jesus ask this question? (He is
intending to teach. This is a point He thinks is
- Read Mark 3:5. Was it necessary to heal this fellow's hand
on Sabbath? (Absolutely not. It was no emergency.)
- Why was Jesus angry? (He was upset that their
understanding of the Sabbath was so corrupted.)
- What lesson about the Sabbath should we learn from
this account? (That doing good for others on the
Sabbath is in accord with the purpose of the
- What does this say about Jesus and Sabbath-keeping
standards? Are they gone? (This story teaches just
the opposite. Jesus wants humans to understand the
appropriate Sabbath-keeping standards. If He didn't
care, He would not have taken the time to address
- Read Mark 3:6 and review Mark 3:4. How much of Jesus'
anger would this explain? (Jesus knew they were willing to
spend their Sabbath plotting His death. He, on the other
hand, was giving more abundant life.)
- Read John 5:5-6 and John 5:8-11. This healing was
obviously not an emergency. Carrying the mat was not a
necessary part of the healing. What lesson is Jesus
- Read John 5:14 and John 5:16-17. We have several moving
parts here. A non-emergency Sabbath healing. Commands to
carry a mat on Sabbath and to stop sinning. The statement
that Jesus works on the Sabbath. How would you put these
parts together to make sense about Sabbath-keeping?
(First, Jesus is not rebelling against the law because He
says, "Stop sinning." Second, healing, mat carrying, and
certain work must be consistent with the Sabbath.)
- What kind of work is consistent with the Sabbath?
(Helping others. Lifting others up.)
- What about carrying the mat? (Being able to carry his
mat was part of the restoration miracle.)
- Friend, does this study give you a better vision of God's
goal for His Sabbath? It is a day to celebrate what God
has done for us. It is a day to take a break from our
regular activities. It is a day to restore others. Will
you determine to properly keep the Sabbath?
- Next week: Christ's Death and the Law.
* Copr. 2014, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.