“Is it permitted to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath? To save life or to kill?” (Mark 3:4)Here is the situation surrounding this statement by Jesus:
Then he returned to the synagogue and there was a man with a paralyzed hand. Those who wanted to accuse him scrutinized whether he would heal the man on the Sabbath. So he said to the man with the paralyzed hand, “Come forward.” (Mark 3:1-3)This statement and situation are described similarly in Matthew and Luke. The Book of John doesn't describe this particular situation, but it does describe another healing on the Sabbath.
Jesus observed the Sabbath
In this statement and the others, we find that Jesus' teachings fully supported the observance of the Sabbath. We find that not only did Jesus observe the Sabbath, but Jesus' students and disciples also observed the Sabbath. And so did the disciples and students of Jesus' disciples.
In the teachings of Moses and the Prophets who followed, we find the Sabbath is considered a day of rest from business - but also a day of devotional activities. Mosaic teachers will teach in the Temple on the Sabbath, and some will fast or partly fast. Why? Because the Sabbath was considered a day of devotion to God. Jesus supported this, with the caveat that healing on behalf of God - which is what Jesus was doing - should also be considered a devotional activity.
Why did the early Church abandon the observation of the Sabbath while Jesus himself observed it as indicated here?
Because the early Roman Catholic Church wanted to distinguish Christianity from Judaism. It was a formalization of Christianity as a sect, with a separate set of principles from Judaism.
Yet this makes absolutely no sense, that those who supposedly say they follow Jesus would not follow his teachings and his principles - of keeping the Sabbath day. By ignoring the Sabbath day, they are essentially saying that Jesus' life and teachings don't matter.
They are teaching that the only thing that matters is their sectarian principles.
Yes, it is just the choice of a day, and any day is good for worshiping God. The Supreme Being is pleased with our worship on any day regardless of the day chosen.
But the issue goes beyond this. The choosing of a different day by sectarian institutions is basically snubbing the principles and teachings of the Prophets, who were practicing and teaching love of God prior to the appearance of Jesus.
These sectarian teachings want us to ignore the fact that Jesus did not make up his own religion. Jesus was passing on the same teachings that had been passed on by the Prophets before him.
God is consistent
This is critical because God doesn't send His representatives for centuries with a particular teaching, and then suddenly send someone else with a new teaching.
God is consistent. His representatives are teaching the same thing: That we should each love and serve the Supreme Being. This is what Moses taught. This is what Abraham taught. This is what Samuel taught. This is what David taught. This is what John the Baptist taught. This is what every other Prophet taught.
And this is also what Jesus taught. When the pharisees asked Jesus what was the most important instruction, Jesus quoted Moses' instruction word for word:
“The most important of all the instructions is, ‘Hear O Israel – the LORD our God is our only Lord – and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’ – this is the most important instruction." (Mark 12:29-30)Note that Jesus says "the LORD our God is our only Lord." Why is this important? Because Jesus is speaking of loving and worshiping the Supreme Being.
There is only one Supreme Being. There is not a Jewish God and a Christian God and a Muslum God and a Hindu God and so on. There is only one God - the Supreme Person. The God of all of us.
This is Jesus' message too
That we should fall in love with the one Supreme Person - the one God of all of us.
If Jesus wanted to start a new philosophy and a new sect and a new religion, then this would have been the time to do it, yes? When the pharisees asked Jesus what was the most important instruction.
But instead of coming up with a new instruction, Jesus quoted Moses' instruction word for word.
Do you see? Do you see how important it was to Jesus that he was passing on the same instructions as the Prophets? He didn't even rephrase Moses' instruction. He quoted it word for word. That says specifically that Jesus was passing on the same instructions as the Prophets.
So why do the so-called followers of Jesus abandon the teachings of the Prophets? Yes, they will certainly carry around those (mistranslated) teachings of the Prophets from the Old Testament as they carry around the Bible. But they ignore those teachings. They ignore the teaching of making offerings to God. They ignore the teaching of praising God's Holy Names.
Instead, they have made up their own teachings. They have made up a bunch of nonsense about Jesus dying for their sins and all we have to do is accept that Jesus died for our sins and we are saved.
Yet Jesus never taught this. Why do they claim to be followers of Jesus while they don't follow what Jesus really said?
Instead of following Jesus and worshiping God and coming to love the Supreme Being, they have made up fictitious characters like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny to love. Yes, these sectarian teachers promote fictitious agents of materialism - Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. But they don't teach kids to love and serve the Supreme Being.
Why do they promote the worship of these fictitious characters? Because they want us to ignore the Supreme Being as they do. They encourage their followers to search for Easter eggs in the park but they don't encourage them to search for God within their heart.
These sectarian teachers don't want to follow Jesus' teachings. Yet they want to be accepted by others. So they teach sectarian principles and extol the importance of family and money even though Jesus taught something completely different. For example, Jesus said this about family:
“Who is my mother or my brothers?” And he looked around, upon those who sat around him, and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!” Because whoever shall do God’s will – this is my brother, and my sister and mother!” (Mark 3:33-35)Sectarian teachers don't care that their teachings conflict with Jesus' teachings. They don't care that Jesus didn't want to create a new sect separate from the principles of the Prophets. Yet they have created not just one new sect: They created dozens of different so-called Christian sects, each stating their interpretation and rituals are right and those of the other sects are wrong.
This sectarianism runs completely contrary to the life and teachings of Jesus. Jesus did not start a new sect. He was accepted as a rabbi (teacher in the lineage of the Prophets) and gave sermons in institutional temples. His teachings may have been surprisingly refreshing to those around him, but they were still reflections of the teachings of the Prophets in their pure form.
This is why Jesus quoted the Prophets over and over in his teachings. Most of these - just like this statement about the Sabbath - have been ignored by today's sectarian teachers. And they have mistranslated and misinterpreted some of his statements to seem like the Prophets were all about predicting Jesus' appearance. In reality, Jesus was simply indicating that he was carrying out the principles of the Prophets.
Do you see how this can be so easily misinterpreted?
Let's clarify: In an effort to marginalize the Prophets, the sectarian Roman Catholic Church and their teachers began to claim that the purpose of the Prophets' teachings was to predict Jesus' arrival. As if their whole purpose for all their devotional activities and teachings was to predict Jesus? That is simply nonsense.
Let's say that a governor of a state carries out a regulation that was signed into law by a former governor, years before. As he carries out the regulation, he says something like, "Today I am carrying out what my predecessor governor envisioned decades ago when he signed the regulation into law." Certainly, in the eyes of today's governor, he is carrying out the vision of the former governor. But it is not that the former governor's purpose was to predict the arrival of today's governor. That would be ridiculous. But do you see how this could be twisted around years later by those who ignore the realities of the situation? Today's governor is simply carrying out the law in the spirit of the previous governors.
If one carefully reads Jesus' teachings without sectarian influence and mistranslation, we can easily see that Jesus was following the teachings of the Prophets and carrying them out as well. He was the embodiment of the teachings of the Prophets. Not only did Jesus teach what the Prophets taught - he also practiced those teachings and clarified the teaching errors of some then-current institutional priests who were claiming to follow the Prophets.
This is the role of God's representative
To clarify God's teachings, while confirming the teachings of former representatives of God.
Contrary to Jesus' teachings, the Roman Empire's established sect - the Roman Catholic Church - sought to distinguish itself from the Prophets and the Mosaic institution. It was part of their strategy to establish control over the population by creating a new distinct religion.
This is also why they tried to construe that the purpose of the Prophets' teachings was merely to predict Jesus' arrival rather than consistently teaching about loving and worshiping the Supreme Being.
Such a misinterpretation is hypocrisy, because not only did Jesus observe the teachings of the Prophets - including the observance of Passover and the Sabbath - but his disciples and followers did as well. This means that Jesus' teachings were consistent with the teachings of the Prophets. He didn't invent a new doctrine, nor did he make up his own teachings.
The reality is that the teachings of the Prophets - as confirmed in so many of their teachings - came from the Supreme Being just as Jesus' teachings came from the Supreme Being:
“My teaching is not mine, but comes from He who sent me." (John 7:16)We can only conclude that those sectarian institutions and their teachers who created a different day other than the Sabbath were not followers of Jesus. They wanted to set up their own institution and create their own teachings while abandoning the teachings of Jesus.
Why else would they feel the need to desecrate the Sabbath and instead claim a new day of observation? Some say it's because Jesus "rose" on Sunday. Yet this conflicts with the fact that early followers of Jesus continued to observe and worship on the Sabbath. They also commemorated that day that Jesus appeared to them after leaving his physical body. But they still observed the Sabbath because they were following Jesus' instructions.
And why would they abandon the teachings of Jesus - that we should learn to love and serve the Supreme Being - and instead teach that Jesus only came to die for our sins?
This is why Jesus said about these sectarian teachers:
"Not everyone who says to me, ‘lord, lord,’ shall enter the sanctuary of the spiritual realm – only one who does what pleases my LORD in the spiritual realm. Many will say to me at that time, ‘Master, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name cast out demons, and in your name perform many miracles? And I will say to them, ‘I never knew you: Get away from me, you who practice wickedness.’" (Matt. 7:21-23)Jesus is clearly stating that those who claim to be followers and representatives of Jesus yet don't follow his instructions to love and serve the Supreme Being are not his followers or representatives. He says to them, "Get away from me, you who practice wickedness."
So why did Jesus do healings on the Sabbath and why were they frowned upon by the Pharisees and High Priests?
Because like many of today's sectarian teachers, the Pharisees and priests were not focused on serving the Supreme Being. Their focus was on maintaining their positions within their institutions and maintaining their followers.
Thus their teachings emphasized ritualistic rules as if following those rules are the goal. Like today's sectarian institutional teachers, they emphasized appearance over purpose.
This is why Jesus also said:
"Do not judge by appearances – but make righteous decisions.” (John 7:24)We find that the phrase to "judge by appearances" is a common saying even today about those who do not look deeper than the outer appearance of something.
In this case, is it understanding the deeper meaning of the observance of the Sabbath.
The purpose of Sabbath
The purpose of the observance of the Sabbath is to help us refocus our mind and energies towards re-developing our relationship with the Supreme Being and away from materialism. This means taking a day off of the mundane aspects of our lives and using a day for prayer, praising God's Holy Names, making offerings to God, learning more about Him and serving the Supreme Being in some way.
As is illustrated by Jesus' life and teachings, it is even better is to pray, praise the Supreme Being, make offerings to Him and try to serve the Supreme Being somehow every day, or at least more than one day a week. This was in fact what Jesus was doing and what his followers were doing. Jesus was using every day to preach to others or travel to those places where he would preach. And his close followers were traveling with him and assisting him in these efforts.
Jesus didn't have to put aside one day to worship God because he was working on behalf of the Supreme Being and worshiping Him every day.
And this is the point of Jesus' statement here about the Sabbath. Jesus was preaching and healing on the Sabbath because he was serving God - just as he was doing on other days.
This also confirms that Jesus' healings had a deeper purpose outside of healing people's physical bodies. Jesus was healing as part of his preaching efforts. If Jesus was healing just for the purpose of making other's physical bodies better he would have set up hospitals.
Rather, Jesus' healings, in fact, were intended to illustrate the power and authority the Supreme Being had given him within the physical world. So people would listen to his teachings.
The reality is that Jesus taught that we are not these physical bodies. We are each the spirit-person residing within the physical body. This is illustrated in his statements such as:
"And don’t fear those who can kill the body but are unable to kill the soul." (Matt. 10:28)The word "soul" here is translated from the Greek word ψυχή which means, according to the lexicon, "the vital force which animates the body" and "an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death."
Thus we can conclude that Jesus is clearly identifying that we are each the soul within this temporary physical body. When the body dies, we do not die.
This is because the self or soul - us - is spiritual. It is not part of the temporary forms and names of the physical world.
As such, we can know that healing a person's physical body would only be important to a person who is falsely identifying himself as the temporary physical body. For a person who follows Jesus' teachings, and thus does not identify themselves as the physical body - they would understand that the purpose of Jesus' healings was to attract others to Jesus' teachings.
Why? Because Jesus wanted to teach them - and all of us - that we are each spiritual beings and our natural position is to be one of the Supreme Being's loving servants. We are each created by the Supreme Being to love Him, serve Him and play with Him in the spiritual realm. But because love requires freedom, God also gave each of us the ability to choose whether we wanted to love and serve Him or not.
Those who chose not to love and serve the Supreme Being were allowed to get away from Him and be able to ignore Him. This is the purpose of the physical world - to allow those who want to be away from God the ability to do so.
But the Supreme Being also knows that we will never be happy without our loving service relationship with Him. We will be eternally empty without our Soul Mate - the Supreme Being.
Thus He sends His loving servants periodically to call us home to Him. He sent Jesus and the Prophets to request we consider returning to Him.
But He never forces us
If God wanted to force us He would simply take away our free will. He would remove our ability to decide for ourselves whether we want to serve Him or not. But He doesn't. This is because He doesn't want slaves: He wants our love.
This is expressed in Jesus' most important teaching - as was Moses' and the other Prophets' most important teaching despite the misinterpretations of sectarian institutions:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)