One Sabbath, Yeshua and his disciples were passing through some grain fields. “His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, ‘Look, your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath’” Matt 12:1-2 NASB). Yeshua gave these Pharisees a long answer, summing it up that “the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath!” (cf. Matt 12:8; Mk 2:28; Lk 6:5).

In traditional understanding, Yeshua’s answer contains a claim to his divinity. According to this understanding, as Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus is above the Sabbath and, by association in this instance, so are his disciples. But such interpretation misses the very heart of Yeshua’s beautiful teaching about humanity. Jesus says that God’s human creation, the children of Adam, are more important than the Sabbath! The confusion arises because of the term “Son of Man” (huios tou anthropou; υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου). Yeshua frequently uses this phrase to describe himself in a messianic and apocalyptic sense (referring to Dan 7:13-14), but the title has more than one meaning. In ordinary biblical Hebrew, “son of man” (ben adam; בֶּן אָדָם) simply means a “human being” (over 90 times in Ezekiel).

Is Jesus the Lord of the Sabbath? Yes, but there is more. Mark’s Gospel gives us a hint as to why the disciples are allowed to pick grain and eat it on the Sabbath when Yeshua says, “The Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath. So, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mk 2:27-28). The Sabbath was a reminder for Israel of God’s grace in releasing the Israelites from Egypt. Moses states, “Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore, the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day” (Deut 5:15). Jesus knew that the Sabbath was a day to commemorate freedom and divine grace. God’s grace towards humanity (in this case, Jesus’ disciples) was most deeply expressed on the Sabbath and, as Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus knew this well.

Yeshua’s decision to allow his disciples to eat grain on the Sabbath coheres with the grace that God extended to Israel in setting the nation free from bondage. Thus, Jesus does not depart from the Torah’s commands regarding Sabbath, but rather highlights the gift of grace out of which the Law comes.



  1. Though i agree with your statement I see you have also not understood or are not addressing the real issue which was Yeshua standing against the Mishnaic added Sabbath rules that elevated the day way beyond what it was intended to be according to the Torah. Instead of a day of grace for mankind it had become a day of great burdensome rules. And in the Mishnah even God was obligated to keep the Sabbath. Indeed Yeshua was Lord of the Sabbath and He reiterated its proper place to the fury of Leaders.

    • Sharon, I cannot address every aspect of the question here. Not in a short post. Yeshua cannot be against Mishnaic rules because those rules have not been created in his day yet. And he was not against most traditions, just the ones that killed the joy of serving Hashem. But will say that halakha has to be built in the way that keeping God’s laws is a joy. No, not easy but something we can cherish and look forward to. Halakha should not afflict people’s lives. And that is one of the unique aspects of Yeshua’s halakha.

    • That is the issue with man made laws in any religion including Islam. There was a purpose to create a FENCE in order to keep violating the actual laws. that happened during the Babylonien captivity. However, once Jews came back to the land, that FENCE was not necessary anymore. No wonder when Yeshua came, it was that very issue that he had to confront.

  2. “Yeshua’s decision to allow his disciples to eat grain on the Sabbath coheres with the grace that God extended to Israel in setting the nation free from bondage.”
    Bondage to what? I keep reading all through the Old Testament prophesies concerning the Messiah that he will “set the prisoners free” and that the coastlands will wait for his law (“hope” in some versions instead of “law”) and that the government will be upon his shoulders and that he will bring “justice” and all of this sounds like a new government with new laws-and of course God tells Jeremiah he is going to do a “new thing”.

    SO it seems to me that what people were being freed from and in bondage to was the Torah itself because even in Jeremiah 7:22 he says the he did NOT speak to Israel concerning sacrifices on the DAY (two months to be more clear) he brought them out of Egypt. And in Jeremiah 11:7-8 God says that they have to obey the covenant but it seems he’s saying that there was a reasons he had to give it to them even though there could have been another way:

    “For I solemnly warned your fathers in the day that I brought them up from the land of Egypt, even to this day, warning persistently, saying, “LISTEN TO MY VOICE.” 8 Yet THEY DID NOT obey or incline their ear, but walked, each one, in the stubbornness of his evil heart; THEREFORE I brought on them all the WORDS (debar) of THIS COVENANT, which I commanded them to do, but they did not.’”

    SO I went back and reread Exodus 15-19 very meticulously and it seems that he tried to just have a relationship with them where they’d listen to his voice, but time and again they did not, so after two months he gave them a covenant because apparently they needed it.

    So it seems to me that they were given and they were going to be “stuck with it” for lack of a better term, but that when the Messiah would come, then he would do what he always wanted to do-have a RELATIONSHIP with Israel like he did with Enoch, Noah, Moses, Jacob, Abraham, Isaac etc.

    So it seems that the “prison” is the law system that he had to give them because of their hard hearts. Even when he told them to keep Sabbath in Ex 16 it SEEMS like its because they do not TRUST that he will provide for them. referring them BACK to his creation week with his blessing of Sabbath which would represent the 7000th year, he is reminding them that he is the creator and sovereign God and also that he delivered them out of Egypt. Only the ALMIGHTY GOD, the El Shaddai could possibly do that. Seems Sabbath was a tool to show them who he is, but once Jesus came, and the world was better and relationships with God through the Holy Spirit could be formed, then the purpose of Sabbath was fulfilled.
    AM I crazy?

    • Dear Melinda, I know this what many people teach, but it is quite misguided. Torah is God’s teaching, our Heavenly Father’s instructions. How can it be bad? God’s commandments are good because the one who gave them is good. We are to meditate on them day and night. God did not come up with laws to punish Israel, but so we would have a good life. I am sorry, I cannot agree with that sentiment because it makes God sadistic and malevolent being, giving out curses and afflicting his children with burdens they cannot bear. Not my God. What bondage did we need relief from? Bondage of sin and death. Yeshua did not die so that I can ignore God’s commandments and get away with it. He died so that I will not be condemned by sin. I think you misunderstand who the enemy is in all of this, Melinda. Sorry for the rant, but you must rethink what you said.

      • John Calvin discusses his views of the covenants in detail in his Institutes of Religion.
        According to his view, there is the covenant of the Torah and acknowledges the possibility of finding justification under the first covenant. I.e a son of man that can achieve this covenant is justified by the Torah. This covenant is therefore good as it seeks to establish a an upright relationship with God.

        However, there was also the covenant of grace whereby a scape goat was sacrificed for the atonement of the Sins for those that could not keep the covenant. This is the covenant of grace. It was always present in the Holy Scriptures.

        Jesus, as the Son of man, was the one of few that did achieve the covenant of the Torah, It may be debated Henog and Elijah was also able accomplished this as they never suffered death. God has made it possibly be justified by the Torah and such a person would not require more grace as the first covenant would be sufficient. Abrahan and Moses and many Jews were justified through the covenant of grace. They believed in the forgiveness of sin and new they were condemned by the Covenant of the Torah.

        Jesus did not require the covenant of grace but he was sent to. and chose to become the scapegoat for all. Those that have come before Him and those after Him. The scapegoat was and other sacrifices were merely an allusion to the justified Son of Man that one day would fulfil the Torah and the covenant of Grace. The Sheep without Blemish. There is, therefore, no need for atonement and justification through any of these. We merely need to believe this. it is only our rejection of these that will lead to our Eternal damnation John 3. So both are Good. But holding to earn justification through the first covenant will lead to death as we will not be able to succeed or have already failed. Refusing to accept the fulfilment of the second covenant leads to the same, eternal damnation which you bring unto yourself. Both covenants were an action of a God that loved the world. The first and second Covenant was achieved by a single Jew, Yeshua of Nazareth, the promised Messiah, the Son of Man, 100% human. He did not achieve this as the Son of God. Due to His fulfilment of the Torah and the atonement, He has been raised from the dead and sits on the right hand of God, his father with the full authority to rule forever. As in Daniel prophecy, I believe He will one day come on the clouds to finally claim His Kingdom which is only partially active on the Earth.
        So the Covenant of the Torah is Good. God has never rescinded it. it was only fulfilled. This is the Good News!

        • Dear Andre, I am glad to see that you were able to work all of this out theologically. It sounds very cohesive and logical. I happen to disagree with many things John Calvin said and taught simply because we build theology from entirely different starting points. Nothing personal against Calvin or any other theologian of the past for that matter. I am sure Calvin was a decent man. But his ideas are not really useful to me. We articulate problems differently and do not define the key theological terms in the same way. Its like we live in different worlds and do not even speak the same language. For example… For me, a covenant cannot exist without an already existing relationship. If the relationship already exists then covenant merely regulates that existing relationship and defines the obligations rather then initiates of articulates the relationship. It is like love (relationship) and marriage (covenant). This simple paradigm makes all of his discussions of covenants completely unhelpful. We disagree on “what is a covenant” on its nature and functions and that is why our theological thoughts will part ways. I am not trying to argue, Andre. There is just more than one way to see the big picture and to interpret it.

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      • No, I did not anywhere in my writing say that the laws were bad. Not even once. What I said was that they could have done what their forefathers did which was to walk always listening to the Lord speak to them. But from Exodus 15 we see that they didn’t trust in God to take care of them so they complained about water. This prompted the very first statute and regulation. (Ex 15:25) Then in Ex 16 they complained about not having bread and meat in their pots like they did in Egypt. So God provided again-this time giving them the Sabbath command. Then in Ex 17 once AGAIN they complained about lack of water.
        Does it not seem obvious that they are not putting their trust in God to provide for them? How could they even walk with him in a relationship if they can’t even accept that he is over the world and all the elements and could care for their needs? They did not have faith. It seems the law was designed to get them in a better place to be able to even have faith by the time the Messiah arrived.

        So the law he gave them was not bad, but something had to be done to keep them in line until the Messiah would come because at the rate they were going it seems that they didn’t trust God at all. And even WITH the covenant and the law they STILL worshipped other gods (demons/fallen angels) and even sacrificed their own children. How much worse would they have been with no law? So I never said the law was bad. That is unfairly putting words in my post.

        And contrary to what you might think….I did not learn any of this from some pastor or church. I actually learned it from meticulously pouring over Jeremiah 7 and 11 and then going back to meticulously pour over every line in Exodus 15-19 after they left Egypt and before the covenant was given. I don’t even think my pastor could have a conversation about this with me.
        BUT, I left the religion of Hebrew Roots in March this year after realizing so many things they taught were false and so I spent months on this topic alone…and sacrifices which is another thing altogether. So despite the fact that the law was pounded into my head, I escaped the Hebrew Roots religion-not by being rebellious, but by studying the scriptures and everyday realizing more and more than not only do the churches misunderstand the purpose of the law, but so do those who say that we must still adhere to it today. And BTW-a Jewish Man who believes in Messiah now was actually one of the first sermons I listened to concerning this topic and he agreed with a lot of what I was seeing in scripture concerning the Mosaic covenant vs the Abrahamic covenant, so I am not alone here. I’d mention his name because his testimony went viral on a website in Israel and has been seen by millions, but I’m not going to plug another ministry on here. 🙂

        • Dear Melinda, I am very encouraged by what you wrote. Apologies for any misunderstandings. Sounds like you are on a firm path, which is not easy, but it is his will. I pray you never lose the passion for learning and discovery, for asking questions and seeking out answers. That is what led you this far. I also hope you can keep an open mind and a sensitive spirit, and that Hashem will send you those with whom you can share this journey.

    • No you are not crazy. The 4th Commandment is so obvious a ‘covenant’ commandment just as ‘circumcision’ respectively. Whereas Jesus/Yeshua/Joshua/Savior is the Covenant to the people and a light to the Gentiles. Two Covenants. The Sabbath sign of covenant ‘between’ God and ‘the children of Isreal’-Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Isreal – (of circumcision) whereas the Second Covenant is Christ ‘rest’ IN you the hope of glory’ — and the middle wall of separation is torn down in the one new man: Christ. The covenant ministry of death was written in stone (glorious) yet the ministry of the Spirit is Eternal life and peace (more glorious). The moral law finds its ‘substance reality’ in Christ; our deliverer, Savior, REST and prince of peace. Now it is The One New Covenant Mediator and High Priest ‘between’ God and man: the Man Christ Jesus!!!777

      • I just wander, did Jesus, by His sacrifice do away with the whole law? Did He write the law in our heart? If He did away with the Sabbath are we now also allowed to kill, steel, commit adultery etc.? If we are not allowed to do all those things, which form part of the 10 Commandments, then why are we allowed to do away with the Sabbath? Jesus told his disciples that on these two commandments hangs the whole law “LOVE God with all your heart etc. AND LOVE your neighbour as yourself” How do we love God? How do we love our neighbour? Think about It!! We keep the commandments with love in our hearts, not because we were ordered to, but because we LOVE to.

  3. Excellent item Prof Pinchas. As the children of Israel were by the Almighty out of the bondage of Egypt so we who come in repentance and faith to our beloved Lord and saviour and trust in His redemptive power we are delivered from the kingdom of Satan to the glorious kingdom of our most gracious and loving Father God. Thank you for this stimulating thesis.

  4. Shalom Prof. Shir; I was wondering if there is a difference in what you are saying and what Dr Eli is saying here. I have two of the same title here. I believe that the Lord of the Sabbath is the one who is the Son of God Yeshua He came here to help us. He also died for us, to help these people that are do not understand what has happened here. I just thought that I would say something here. This could get very confessing with the same two titles.

  5. Is there a difference between David entering “the house of God” and the priests entering “the temple”? I am also having trouble with the word profane (vs 5). The word desecrate seems different (very negative) then the words to make common. I can’t remember what to make common means.

    • I know that words have connotations to us, usually defined by culture and usage. But the word “profane” sounds bad but it means “common/unholy” and actually “ordinary” where “holy” is something extraordinary. There is nothing wrong with “ordinary” but of course “holy” is special and “ordinary” is not.

  6. A lot is said about the exact on which the Sabbath must be celebrated. Is Saturday or Sunday on the Gregorian calendar that we use today.I read that at some stage two Sabbath,s were celebrated. I would appreciate some biblical guidance on this

    • Actually very little is written about how exactly the Sabbath should be observed in the Bible. The sages compare the laws of Shabbat to a mountain suspended by a hair, so much weight but it hangs on so few of God’s words.

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  7. Yeshua is Lord of the Sabbath, because He is the Creator. John chapter 1, 1-5. He made the world in six days and rested on the Sabbath. So the Sabbath is given to mankind as a reminder of Who created the world. It was given to all mankind before the Israelites came into being. I am glad that the Jewish people have faithfully observed the true Sabbath throughout history, even though nations have tried to change times and laws.

    • And the Sabbath was made for mankind (literally a day after) and not the other way around. Yeshua’s point is the people are to benefit from Shabbat since it was made for them, not the other way around.

  8. Sabbath, as fot instance circumcisiom, is a kind of sign or metonymy of the Law, the Torah, so when Jesus reclaims himself as Lord of Sabbath, he is reclaiming too as Lord of the Law, the Torah, or perhaps better expressed, beyond it.

  9. I committed to Ex 19:8 without ever having gone to church (or read a Bible) and had no idea what a Sabbath was. How could I have remembered the Sabbath day to keep it Holy? And yes, I would be saved because I repented. After I walked into a church I was told I was resting. None of that helps the 4th commandment to make sense. Is it possible that the word remember (zakar) means an announcement of whatever it is that one seeks to bring to remembrance? This makes sense to me because I remember the two-fold revelation of Christ. Is the revelation of Jesus what makes the Sabbath Holy? I didn’t get the announcement of Jesus from a church or the Bible, nor was it my work because I had never heard of Jesus. I need a physical language to help me work through this.

    • Jewish tradition teaches that Shabbat is “remembered” by focusing on why it was given and what it means. It is “kept/observed” by altering our lives and physically affirming the Shabbat. Only both actions together represent the fulfillment of “sanctification/keeping it holy” commandment.

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