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PFRS Home > Doctrinal Studies > Hebrew Roots & Sabbath Issues

Following Jesus' Example?

Copyright © Tim Warner

One argument often used by Sabbath-keepers is that we should follow Jesus' example, and He kept the Sabbath. The problem with this argument is it ignores the change in dispensation that occurred at the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus and the disciples observed the Law regarding Sabbaths and Feasts during Jesus ministry.

If one is consistent, he would have to agree that such a position also requires that he go up to Jerusalem three times a year, as commanded by the Torah, and observe all of the feasts - because Jesus did. Here is what the Law demanded of all Jewish males.

Deut 16:16
16 "Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed.

And it seems Jesus followed the commandment.

Luke 2:41-42
41 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.
42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.

John 2:23
23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did.

John 4:45
45 So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they also had gone to the feast.

John 5:1
1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

John 7:2,10
2 Now the Jews' Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. ...
10 But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.

John 12:12
12 The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,

Matt 26:17
17 Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, "Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?"

So, it is clear that Jesus observed the commandment, and went up to Jerusalem three times a year for the festivals. But, notice what He told the Samaritan woman:

John 4:19-24
19 The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.
20 "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship."
21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22 "You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.
23 " But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
24 "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

Jesus prophesied that the Mosaic dispensation was closing, and a new way of worship was about to commence, that of worshipping "in spirit and in truth."

This type of worship does not require legalistic observance of particular days. That is why Paul wrote the following.

Rom 14:4-6
4 Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.
6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.

Col 2:16-17
16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,
17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

Paul said not to let anyone judge us regarding these Old Covenant things. They are NOT the reality; Christ is the reality. They were only a shadow. The reality is in Christ. Those of us who rest in Him are keeping the real Sabbath.

Heb 4:1-11
1 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.
2 For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'" And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world.
4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work."
5 And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest."
6 It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience.
7 Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts."
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.
9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;
10 for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.
11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.

The writer of Hebrews was saying that the "Sabbath rest" that remains for Christians is our future reward in the Kingdom of God. The Jews of the Old Testament had the "promised land" as their future hope of "rest." Yet, because of unbelief, most could not go in. We have as our hope of Sabbath-rest entrance into the Kingdom of Christ when He comes. And the writer encourages us to remain faithful.

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