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Lesson No.: 
Memory Verse: 

"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy"  (Exodus 20:8).


The Most Important
"I will have mercy, and not sacrifice," was the point that Jesus often tried to make clear to the Pharisees. They prided themselves upon the ceremonies they went through in connection with their religious worship. The sacrifices they made in the Temple, killing many animals as commanded by the Law given to Moses, were more important to them than taking care of the poor, showing love to the needy, and trying to help sinners get saved.

God had commanded that the sacrifices and offerings be made, because "without shedding of blood is no remission" for sins (See [HEB:9.19-22]). They were a type of Jesus Who was to come and shed His Blood that men might be saved. But these Pharisees went through the motions of worship to God while their hearts were full of sin.

Jesus was not preaching a new doctrine. The Prophet Isaiah spoke hundreds of years before of God's disdain for people who worshiped Him in that manner. When the people were obeying God, He enjoyed the smell of the sweet savour that came from the altar where the offerings were burned when the people sinned, God said, "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? ... I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. . . . Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them" (Isaiah 1: 11-14).

This was the same God Who had spoken in love to the Children of Israel: "I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God" (Exodus:6:7); and again, "The LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth" (Deuteronomy:7:6). God loved His people, and He wanted them to love Him. Whenever they served Him with all their hearts, and loved Him more than anything in the world, He poured out great blessings upon them; but when they honoured Him with their lips and their hearts were removed far from Him, He sent trouble upon them. We cannot expect to have the blessing of God upon us if we are trying to cover up sin in our live. Jesus sees the sin, calls that person a sinner, and says, "the soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel:18:20).

The scribes and Pharisees studied the Scriptures diligently, and could read all about the judgments, which God had sent upon people when they sinned; but they did not take warning to themselves. They continued to cover up their sins. Jesus rebuked them sharply, calling them "whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones." Many times we hear His striking denunciations: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" He told them they paid tithes; they said long prayers; they offered sacrifices; but they had omitted the "weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith." When Paul wrote to the Romans, he said, "Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law" (Romans:13:10). If the Pharisees had had the love of God in their hearts as they should have had, they could have kept the Law without half trying. "Love is the fulfilling of the law." If we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbour as ourself, we will not do anything that the Law commands us not to do.

Jesus never spoke so harshly to sinners who did not pretend to serve Him. He came to save sinners; He was the sinners' Friend. The Jews criticized Him, saying, "This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them ([Luke:15:2]); "Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners" (Matthew:11:19). Among the sinners Jesus found people who wanted to be saved, people who were willing to confess and repent of their sins.

Honouring the Sabbath
We notice that many of the miracles of healing that Jesus performed were done on the Sabbath. It may not have been that He chose that day especially to do good; but the works He did on the Sabbath always caused contention, and are perhaps more frequently recorded for that reason. Jesus certainly showed love and mercy to the sick, the lame, the halt, the blind -- and love is the fulfilling of the Law. Jesus asked the hypocrites if they would not help a sheep out of a pit if it fell in on the Sabbath. Surely they would. But was not a man of more value than a sheep? Was it not more important that a lame man be healed? The way the Pharisees acted, one would have thought they considered a sheep worth much more than a crippled man. Can you see how far these people had drifted from the love God wanted them to have in their hearts?

Jesus and His disciples were walking through a cornfield one Sabbath day and they were hungry. The Law of Moses did not call it stealing if a man ate something in another man's field when he was hungry. But because Jesus and His disciples broke the corn from the stalk on the Sabbath, the Jews complained again that they were breaking the Law. Jesus must have become very tired of their continual faultfinding, but He did try to explain to them why He was justified in doing what He did. He said the priests killed animals -- which, was working -- on the Sabbath, but because it was done for the Temple worship they considered it all right. The Temple had been built to honour God, so surely the Son of God was greater than the Temple. Then if Jesus allowed His disciples to eat the corn in the field on the Sabbath, it was no sin.

While God, with the completion of the creation, rested on the seventh day and hallowed it, yet it was not given to the Israelites to observe this day until the Law was written, when the seventh day was established as a Sabbath in commemoration of their deliverance out of bondage ([Deuteronomy:5:15]). Jesus emphasised the necessity of Christians observing in spirit all the other laws given in the Ten Commandments but He never repeated the command to observe the Sabbath.

Christians observe the first day of the week, the Lord's Day. This was foreshadowed in the Old Testament. In [Leviticus:23:9-12] are found the instructions for the offering of "firstfruit"; and this offering, we note, was made "on the morrow after the sabbath" (verse 11). Paul, in his famous chapter on the resurrection, gives us the significance of this offering: "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept" (I Corinthians:15:20). Jesus Christ, therefore, in His resurrection became the fulfilment of the offering of firstfruits. He arose from the dead on the morrow after the Sabbath, according to the time of that offering.

The "first day of the week" was the day on which Jesus arose; it was the day on which He made His several appearances to the disciples when they had met together. It was the day that the Holy Ghost came upon the people in the upper room, at which time Christ's church was founded. It was the day the early church observed from 100 A. D. to 324 A. D., according to the universal testimony of the fathers from Ignatius to Eusebius, which refutes the claims that Sunday was not observed until so established by the Catholic church many years after the founding of the Christian church.

What must we do to honour the Lord's Day? Jesus has not given us the commandments to refrain from lighting a fire or doing any cooking on Sunday; He has not told us that we can only walk a mile and a half, which was a Sabbath day's Journey under the old law. The Lord wants us to deny ourselves our own pleasures, and do His service (See [Isaiah:58:13-14]). If we have to travel fifty miles to hold a Gospel service, Jesus approves of that, but we should not spend our Sundays on the highways on pleasure trips, nor do any more travelling than necessary. If we love the Lord we shall use that day for His service, and do only such temporal things as absolutely must be done. We must eat on Sunday to have strength to do the Lords work, but we will not neglect His service in order to have big dinners or social gatherings. We will buy our groceries during the week and make as much preparation on Saturday as we can in order to keep our minds on Jesus on His day and worship Him.

We have mentioned before that when we love someone we want to do things for him. If we love Jesus, the most important thing in our lives is to do His will. That love in our hearts makes us love His day, and devote our strength to spreading the good news of salvation. Perhaps a person might receive big wages for working on Sunday, but does money compare with our love for God? Is not the salvation of a man of more value than a sheep?

Doing His Will
Who is it that Jesus claims for His own? "For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name" (John:1:12). And notice what Paul the Apostle said about the blessings of the children of God: "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" (Romans:8:17). Can you imagine what a wonderful heritage we have to be called the children of God? But we must have that love of God in our hearts to be His children. "Love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest" (Luke:6:35).


1. Which day of the week is the Christian Sabbath, and why do we keep it?
2. Name several ways in which one might dishonour the Sabbath.
3. How can we tell if a person is a Christian?
4. What relationship did Jesus claim to those who do His will?
5. What did Samuel tell Saul was more important than sacrifice?