• Sean Esposito

Jesus broke the Sabbath... Really?


8 min Read


The idea that Jesus worked, did not keep, or even broke the Sabbath is either directly or indirectly expressed in the mainstream Christian church today. Most Christians would probably not openly state that the New Testament records Jesus breaking the Sabbath because it would actually communicate that Jesus broke the Law of Moses (Torah) thus describing a Messiah that committed sin. In other words, if Jesus (his Hebrew name being Yeshua), did in fact break or even change the Sabbath, he would be sinning against our Creator and thus rendering himself unable to be the sinless sacrifice and atonement for mankind. Most Christians already know and hold true to the fact that Jesus never sinned once in his entire life. However, they do not recognize and hold on to the fact that the Torah could not and was not changed and is completely applicable in the lives of believers today. The reality is that if Jesus made one minor change or broke the Sabbath in any way shape or form, even insinuating that there would be a change through his disciple’s teachings after his death and resurrection, he would not qualify to be our Messiah according to scripture.

If the Messiah worked on/broke, changed, or taught others there was a change to our Creator’s 7th day Sabbath—HE COULD NOT BE THE MESSIAH.

Myth #1 – Jesus broke the Sabbath

Jesus could not have changed the Sabbath; otherwise he would be considered a false prophet and put to death! He was put to death, but on the basis that he “equated himself to God” and not because he broke any of the Torah. If he was put to death because he sinned, he could not be the unblemished sacrifice that humanity needed for the atonement of their sins.

You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of Yehovah (the Lord) your God that I command you. Deuteronomy 4:2

If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For Yehovah (the Lord) your God is testing you, to know whether you love Yehovah (the Lord) your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after Yehovah (the Lord) your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against Yehovah (the Lord) your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which Yehovah (the Lord) your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. Deuteronomy 13:1-5

In fact, Yeshua (Jesus) kept every Sabbath day holy (“set apart”) and taught others to do the same. Every time he is confronted in the scriptures regarding the Sabbath, he actually ends up teaching the Pharisees how to properly keep the Sabbath. The Pharisees had created their own man-made laws and traditions that were in opposition to the Torah. Yeshua blatantly broke their manmade Oral Law—the “Talmud”—in order to teach Yehovah’s people that they should not blend their own manmade rules with the Yehovah’s perfect instructions. In other words, Yeshua was teaching people how to keep the Torah of our Heavenly Father and to reject the traditions of men! This is why he is seen commanding Yehovah’s people to keep all of the commands given by Moses, but not to keep the Talmud or works of the Pharisees.

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. Matthew 23:1-4

It is usually a surprise to many that Yeshua taught the people to listen to the Pharisees and “do and observe whatever they tell you!” This is shocking to most because throughout Yeshua’s ministry he calls out, rejects, and teaches against the Pharisees. The key to understanding this passage is recorded in the second verse where Yeshua qualifies his statement: commanding that when the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat—or exhort the authority of Moses—one is to do and observe what they tell you. What Yeshua is teaching is that when the Pharisees communicate what Moses taught, the Torah (perfect instructions of Yehovah), then do what they say. Yeshua is teaching that when they hear the Law (Torah), to do and observe what the Law tells you to do! But, he instructs not to do what the Pharisees do, because they only DO what their oral law—traditions of men—teach. Yeshua refers to the Talmud, or oral law, as the heavy burdens that are hard to bare that the Pharisees lay upon heavy shoulders. According to scripture, the heavy burden cannot be the Torah because Yehovah himself said his commands are not burdensome!

Yehovah (The Lord) your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For Yehovah (the Lord) will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, 10 when you obey the voice of Yehovah (the Lord) your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to Yehovah (the Lord) your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

11 “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’14 But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. Deuteronomy 30:9-14

Yeshua directly teaches the crowd and his disciples to keep the Torah of Yehovah, which makes complete sense when we realize that we are to walk in his ways. If Yeshua did not sin on earth, which he did not, it means that he kept the Torah perfectly. John reminds us that sin is lawlessness (breaking of the Torah). If we are called to walk in Yeshua’s ways, and his ways are keeping and honoring Torah, then we are called to keep and obey Torah.

Myth #2 – Jesus directly or indirectly changed the Sabbath day from the 7th day to Sunday the 1st day

This is impossible. In order for our Messiah to be approved and our Father to be “well pleased” with him, he must honor, keep, and teach Torah. The Old Testament scriptures are clear on this. Any teaching that diverts or conflicts with the commands Yehovah gave to Moses at Mt. Sinai is contrary to our Creator and unacceptable.

The Brit Hadasha (New Testament) confirms this: Yeshua lived and taught Torah—he was and is our perfect example!

Myth # 3 – The Apostles, especially Paul, prove that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday

Again, this is impossible if one is to concur that the Apostles taught according to scripture. Yehovah himself proclaimed that not one person—including Messiah, prophets, or Apostles—can add or take away one command from the Torah that He commanded. The Apostles’ teachings actually coincide with the instructions of our Messiah. The misunderstandings that seem to portray a contradiction—for instance the New Testament contradicting with the Old Testament—are easily dismissed through a study that includes the entire context of the misunderstood passage. For example, a conclusion of Acts 10 teaching that all foods are now declared clean can be easily abandoned when the entire chapter is read in its entirety. It is supported further with the inclusion of Acts 11 as a key piece of context to Peter’s vision that instructed him that he could and should share the gospel with the gentiles and that the gentiles were not to be avoided. In brief, most apparent scriptural contradictions regarding the Apostles teaching anything that is in disagreement or altered from the Tanakh (“Old Testament”) can be remedied when they are read in their vital context.

The Apostles could not and would not teach anything contrary to what the Messiah taught them—which would align perfectly with the Torah.

Myth #4 – Christians do not have to keep the Biblical Sabbath

This direct or indirect misunderstanding regarding Jesus and his position on the Sabbath derives from the presupposition that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday (the first day of the week). As most recognize, the “Christian Sabbath” has been proclaimed, celebrated, and honored on Sunday for centuries. This misunderstanding is rooted in the assumption that after Messiah’s death and resurrection, the Apostles were celebrating the Sabbath on Sunday which is known as “The Lord’s Day.” Simply put, Christians and Christian scholars alike recognize the Apostles to perceive a change in the Biblical Sabbath, from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week. This misunderstanding completely ignores several key scriptural foundations, a few of which are listed below.

  • The Sabbath was created at Creation before sin entered the world. - It was Yehovah’s obvious intention for man to rest on the seventh day, just as he exemplified himself, as long as creation existed. It was not until sin entered the world that man began to struggle with honoring our creators Sabbath. If Adam and Eve never sinned, we would all still be in the garden, keeping the Sabbath day holy.

  • The Sabbath was given to Israel (Exodus 31:16). - If anyone claims that they are believers in Yeshua Messiah and are the children of the Elohim (God) of the bible, they are considered Israelites. They are grafted into the covenant with Yehovah that makes them Israel. Israel was commanded to keep the Sabbath throughout their generations (Romans 11).

  • Yeshua kept the Sabbath. - He also knew and proclaimed that not one letter of the Torah will pass away until the new heavens and new earth and all is accomplished (His return and what follows…new heavens and new earth etc.)(Matthew 5:17-20).

  • The Apostles were actually honoring the Sabbath and keeping it holy (Luke 23:54, Acts 15:21).

  • The Sabbath will be kept at the return of the Messiah and when the new heavens and new earth is established (Isaiah 66:22-24).

There is not one piece of scripture that clearly redefines the Sabbath as Sunday—blame actually falls into the hands of Constantine and the Catholic Church. Not one piece of scripture proves that the Apostles were keeping a new Sabbath day on Sunday. Apostle Paul actually confirms the Apostles to keep the Sabbath and to uphold all of the Torah (Romans 3:31).

The whole of scripture instructs believers of Messiah and children of Yehovah—Israel—to honor, keep, and guard the 7th day Sabbath. We echo scripture and encourage every believer to honor and keep holy the Biblical Sabbath.

Conclusion

Yeshua did not and could not break the Biblical 7th day Sabbath. Yeshua is our sinless Messiah and our perfect example who kept our Heavenly Father’s commands and taught others to do the same. This means that his disciples learned from his example, continued to keep Torah, and their instructions were also for believers to uphold and honor Torah. Keeping the Sabbath, as well as every other instruction in the Torah is not a burden and is actually the path to life (Deuteronomy 30:15-20).

We hope that you will prayerfully turn to our Heavenly Father and ask him for wisdom regarding this—supporting your prayer with fervent study of the scriptures just as the Bereans did. Yehovah’s whole Word is perfect and without spot, blemish, or contradiction. Let us all strive to walk in the same way Yeshua walked, recognizing James’ clear words that our faith is proven by our works and how one follows the commands of our Creator. We hope this blog encourages you to test everything and hold on only to what is true.

Note: We encourage you to read each portion of scripture in its context (at least the whole chapter at minimum) in order to properly test and discern what message the authors intend to convey. Remember, we are encouraged to be like the Bereans and test everything to scripture (Acts 17). The only scripture the Bereans had to test and confirm that Apostle Paul’s words were from Yehovah, was the Old Testament. There was no New Testament established during the recorded events of Acts 17. Basically, the Bereans are just one example that help one recognize that the “New Testament” must be in complete agreement with the Old Testament.


Sean is a former Atheist who was finally awoken to the reality of our Creator—which lead him to the one place he thought he would never step foot: “Bible College.” During his studies, our Heavenly Father flipped his Christian worldview upside down in order to reveal the Whole truth of His perfect Word. As a follower of Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus), Sean encourages believers to deepen their faith, seek the truth, test everything, and be willing to walk in the true image they were created: the image of the Most High and his flawless son.

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