Jesus' first of four non-synagogue Saturday (Sabbath) miracles also was his first recorded healing since the start of his ministry in the fall of 26 A.D. It occurred in the city of Capernaum a short time after the Day of Pentecost in 27 A.D. (Luke 4:16 - 30). After synagogue services ended he, along with James and John, visited the home where Peter and Andrew lived.
As Saturday slowly began to end (days ended at sunset), the disciples discovered that Peter's mother-in-law (he was married when he was called) was sick with a fever.
. . . And they spoke to Him at once about her. 31. And He came to her, and took her by the hand and raised her up. And immediately the fever left her, and she served them (Mark 1:30 - 31, see also Matthew 8:14 - 15, Luke 4:38 - 39, HBFV throughout).
It is interesting to note that Jesus, who lived to minister (serve), performed a miracle whereby he healed a woman so that she could also serve others on God's day of rest. This shows that being merciful and offering selfless service to others are an integral part of worshipping God on Saturday "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23).
Challenging the Status Quo
The second of four Saturday miracles we will cover happened in Jerusalem, during the fall festival season, in 28 A.D. Jesus, who took every opportunity to clarify the true spiritual intent of God's law, publically heals a person that challenges long-held erroneous beliefs concerning the Sabbath. The healing, mentioned only in one gospel account (John 5:1 - 18), is of a man who had been disabled and unable to walk for thirty-eight years.
8. Jesus said to him, "Arise, take up your bedroll and walk." 9. And immediately the man was made whole; and he took up his bedroll and walked. Now that day was a Sabbath (John 5:8 - 9)
What is often overlooked regarding Jesus' healing miracles (especially those on Saturday) are always multi-dimensional, meaning that they cured far more than what it seems on the surface. For example, our Savior could have cured the above person's infirmity but left him with weak legs requiring the man to strengthen them himself and relearn to walk. Instead, Christ not only brought back full strength to the legs, he also restored the nerves and brain pathways that make walking possible such that the man could transport himself as if he was never handicapped!
10. For this reason, the Jews said to the man who had been healed, "It is the Sabbath day (Saturday). It is not lawful for you to take up your bedroll" (verse 10)
The Jews, among their long list of what the "tradition of the elders" (Matthew 15:2 - 6, Mark 7:3 - 13) stated could and could not be done on Saturday, forbid the carrying of various objects because they (not God) believed it constituted labor that profaned the day. It was such rules that attempted to micro-manage people's lives that caused the Biblical day of rest to be considered a burden and not a great blessing! Jesus, on the other hand, as "Lord of the Sabbath" (Matthew 12:8), knew that carrying a light bedroll used to provide comfort was not profaning the fourth commandment. He had no problem performing a healing miracle then telling the man to pick up his bed and go home.
The Pool of Siloam
Jesus' next Saturday miracle outside of a synagogue is one of his most well known. It took place at Jerusalem's Siloam pool shortly after the Feast of Tabernacles in 29 A.D. (John 9). A man, born blind, is healed after he washes away clay placed on his eyes. He is then brought before the Pharisees who tersely quiz him regarding how he received his sight. The awesomeness of a man, who all knew was sightless from birth, being healed by the Lord caused a great stir.
16. Then some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God because He does not keep the Sabbath." Others said, "How can a man who is a sinner do such miracles?" And there was a division among them (John 9:16)
According to the Bible Background Commentary, kneading dough (broadly applied to Jesus "kneading" clay into someone's eyes) was one of THIRTY-NINE classes of work Jewish tradition forbad on Saturday. John Gill's Exposition states that while the Jews permitted placing a salve or plaster on the eyes if it was for pleasure, such an act was not allowed on the Sabbath for healing!
Such a spectacular public miracle on Saturday did begin to cause some of the religious leaders to question their interpretation of Biblical law. Such introspective regarding Christ and what he taught no doubt ultimately led to some believing he was the promised Messiah (see John 7:50, 12:42, Acts 6:7, etc.).
The final of four Saturday miracles we will review, recorded only in Luke, occurred sometime between fall of 29 A.D. and spring of 30 A.D. (when Christ was crucified).
1. Now it came to pass, when He (Jesus) went into a house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees on the Sabbath to eat bread, THAT THEY WERE WATCHING HIM. 2. And behold, there was a certain man who had dropsy standing in front of Him.
3. Then Jesus answered and spoke to the doctors of the law (scribes) and to the Pharisees, saying, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?" 4. But they were silent. And after taking hold of him, He healed him and then let him go (Luke 14:1 - 4)
Something, however, is rather odd. How did the man with dropsy, who was not religious leader or Bible teacher, end up being present at an exclusive meal given at the house of an influential Pharisee? Such Jewish religious leaders were well known for looking down upon others, especially the poor and the sick (Luke 7:36 - 39, 18:9 - 14, 19:7). Was the man's appearance mere chance?
Verse one above states that the moment Jesus appeared at the Pharisees' house on Saturday he was being actively watched by Jewish leaders. Then, a man who suffered from a disease that was clearly noticeable (swollen parts of the body) shows up at the gathering without anyone questioning why he is there. In fact, not only does the man not say anything, Scripture does not state the man was seeking Christ for the express purpose of receiving a miracle! He seems, almost miraculously, to appear in front of the Lord. He stands silently before him as if to see how he would be treated.
It is highly likely, given their hatred of Christ and his message, that the Pharisees arranged the Saturday meal and invited the Lord for the express purpose of baiting him to perform one of his healing miracles. Since they firmly believed that such an act on the Sabbath was a great sin, seeing Jesus openly disobey their rules would give them further evidence to soon justify their decision of the death penalty (Matthew 26:59 - 68, Mark 14:55 - 65). Their plots, however, did not deter our Savior from demonstrating, yet again, that offering mercy on the day of rest fulfilled its true meaning and was pleasing to God.