Bible Study

John Bible Study, Day 8: Jesus Breaks the Sabbath

Today’s passage: John 4:43 to 5:30

Focus verse: At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath. (John 5:9)

In Genesis, after God finishes his amazing creation, he takes time on the seventh day to rest. Later, in the Old Testament, God tells his people to keep the Sabbath holy and not work. Yes, they take a day off from work. 

In his commands to rest and revere the Sabbath, God never tells them to go to the temple every Sabbath. Though a few of their special celebrations fall on the Sabbath and involve the temple, temple attendance isn’t a weekly command.

As the people rest on God’s holy day and worship him, what does he do? Does he have a Sabbath rest too? What does he do on our Sundays?

Just as he did after he created us, I once assumed God rests along with us. He’d sit back and receive our worship. I imagined our adoration restoring him, even to where the more engaging our praise, the more energized he became.

I assumed that as we take a break, so would he. That God, along with us, rests one day out of seven for a mini re-creation. Now we’re both ready to start a new week.

Although an imaginative idea, Scripture doesn’t support it.

Jesus heals a lame man on the Sabbath. His detractors confront him. They criticize him for working on the day that God commanded everyone to rest. 

Jesus sees this differently. He explains that as his Father God is always working, he is too. Aside from the creation account, we don’t read that God and his Son rest on the seventh day. 

No, as we rest and worship, God works. And I’m okay with that. If God were to rest, for even one day, what would become of us? I need him every moment of every day, so I’m glad he doesn’t take a break.

What does your Sunday look like? Do you apply the Old Testament commands for a Sabbath rest from your weekly schedule? Do you follow God’s instruction to keep the day holy?

In the early days of Jesus’s church, the first day of the week becomes their special day instead of the Sabbath. Many Christians today apply the Old Testament directives for Sabbath rest and holiness to Sunday. 

Yet, Jesus models doing good and helping others, even if it occurs on the day of rest.


  1. What does your Sunday look like? 
  2. Do you rest one day each week and keep it holy? Why?
  3. How obligated should you feel to attend church each Sunday?
  4. Do you do good on the Sabbath (Sunday) and help others, regardless of what people might think? 
  5. How can you go to church and also be available to help others?

Discover more about the Sabbath in Genesis 2:2–3, Exodus 20:8–11, and Mark 2:23–28. What insights can you glean from these passages?

Read the next lesson or start at the beginning of this study.

Tips: Check out our tips to use this online Bible study for your church, small group, Sunday school class, or family discussion. It’s also ideal for personal study. Come back each Monday for a new lesson.

Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

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