Chapter 4 Sabbath Controversies and Mountain Sermon
In the last chapter we studied the beginning of Jesus’ great ministry. From January through March of A.D. 28 he worked in his own backyard, Galilee. However, when the time for the Passover came, once again he made the trip to Jerusalem. As Jesus preached and healed in Jerusalem other Jews were having heated discussions about Jesus. In his teachings and actions Jesus was questioning the center of the corrupted Jewish religion – obeying the Old Testament Sabbath laws in their smallest details while forgetting their meaning and purpose. By obeying the laws in this way, they thought that they were doing good works that would earn their salvation. After the Passover the Lord returned and resumed his ministry in Galilee. There the complaints were drowned out by the cries of hope and praise. Crowds gathered around the “Good Doctor” to receive help for their illnesses. But Jesus, as he showed in the Sermon on the Mount, had come to give spiritual relief.
Miracle at Bethesda （John 5:1-15） 毕士大的神迹（约5:1-15）
After three months of busy mission work, Jesus briefly stopped his ministry to travel to Jerusalem for the Passover. While he was in Jerusalem he went to the pool of Bethesda. The sight must have made him sad. Here a great number of sick and diseased people had gathered beneath the shaded porches. From time to time God would send an angel to stir the waters of the pool. The first person who stepped into the pool was then cured of his disease.
As Jesus looked at the blind, lame and paralyzed his attention fell upon one person in particular. Through his divine knowledge Jesus knew that this man had been paralyzed for 38 years （longer than the average life expectancy at that time）。 Not only was this man very crippled, but he was also severely depressed. And since he was unable to pull himself into the water after the angel’s visit, he had no hope of being cured.
Moved to help, Jesus approached the man and asked what seemed to be a silly question, “Do you want to get well?” （John 5:6）。 This question, however, was Jesus’ way of offering help. The crippled man answered that it was impossible for him to be healed unless someone put him in the water at the right moment. Jesus did not respond to this but simply commanded, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured. He picked up his mat and walked （John 5:8-9）。
Note two things about this miracle. First think what great power it showed. For 38 years this man had been paralyzed, but after one statement from Christ he was fully restored to normal health. His almost dead muscles were made strong, and immediately he was able to walk. Secondly, there is no evidence that this man believed in Jesus before this meeting. Nevertheless, God filled his heart with trust so that at Christ’s command, he tried to do the impossible – to move muscles he could not feel or control.
The man was healed and later worshiped God in the temple. There Jesus gave him with a word of warning, “Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you” （John 5:14）。 In an instant Jesus showed the man the sins of his past, showed him forgiveness, and warned him of eternal damnation.
A Sabbath Controversy （John 5:16-47） 安息日公开辩论（约5:16-47）
Some people immediately became upset by Jesus’ show of compassion and power. This was because he had performed this miracle on the Sabbath day. The importance of resting on the Sabbath day went back to God’s creation of the world. God created for six days then rested on the seventh （Gen. 2:2-3）。 Later God declared in the Third Commandment that the Sabbath was to be kept holy （Exod. 20:8-11）。 Still later God repeated that work was not to be done on this day （Neh. 13:15; Jer. 17:21）。
What did the Old Testament mean when it commanded rest on the Sabbath day? First of all, it meant people should rest from their normal daily work. People were not to carry anything to or from their fields, or bring anything into the city to be sold. In the second place the Sabbath was to be a symbol of the spiritual rest which would come through the promised Messiah （cf. Matt. 11:28-29）。 While awaiting the Savior, the people were to use the Sabbath to think about God’s many blessings, to worship him, to praise him, and to study his word.
Unfortunately, by Jesus’ time, the true meaning of the Sabbath had been lost. To the Pharisees the Sabbath meant obeying a long list of laws and rules. They invented laws to control how much a person could lift on the Sabbath, and how much he could eat and drink. The laws became silly. One said that on the Sabbath a person could go outdoors wearing two shoes, but to go walking with only one was breaking the law. On the Sabbath a man could carry a loaf of bread, but two men might not carry it between them.
In the eyes of the jealous Pharisees Jesus had twice broken the Sabbath. First he had done work on the Sabbath by healing the paralyzed man. Secondly he had ordered the man to work by carrying his bed home. Thus began a serious struggle between the Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus Christ, and those who had corrupted the Sabbath, the religious leaders of the people.
The Jewish leaders now accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath law. If he was found guilty, he should have been killed; the people should throw stones at him until he was dead （Num. 15:32-36）。 Jesus gave a logical and spiritual defense. He argued that God the Father worked every day for mankind, so naturally the Son of God also works on the Sabbath. To the Jews this statement was blasphemous. Jesus was making himself equal to God.
Jesus is equal to God. He argued that this equality was his Father’s doing. The Father put into Jesus’ hands the matters of life and death and judgment. Thus, he deserved equal honor with the Father, and, on the other hand, “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” （John 5:23）。 The Jews did not have to take Jesus’ word for this. John, a man moved by God, testified concerning Jesus as did the Father himself. All of Scripture testifies that Jesus was God’s Son. But the Jews did not listen to Jesus’ words.
Another Sabbath Controversy （Matt. 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28: Luke 6:1-5） 另一次安息日辩论（太12:1-8）；可2:23-28;路6:1-5）
After celebrating the Passover Jesus and his disciples headed home. As they walked along some Pharisees joined them looking for any excuse to condemn him. Their chance came on another Sabbath day.
That day Jesus’ disciples walked through a wheat field, picking some grain, separating the seed and eating it. The Pharisees did not accuse the disciples of stealing. They were merely satisfying their need for food, something allowed by Mosaic Law （Deut. 23:25）。 However, the disciples were accused of working on the Sabbath （reaping and threshing）。 The Pharisees held Jesus responsible for their actions.
When confronted by the Pharisees Jesus gave a sharp reply. First he directed them to an example set by King David. David had once eaten the bread in the Lord’s tabernacle, even though this was not proper. Nevertheless, the need of the moment was more important, so no one ever condemned David （1 Sam. 21:1-6）。 In Jesus’ case it was not just a case of need being more important than following man-made laws. Jesus was the “Lord of the Sabbath” （Luke 6:5）。 Because he was God’s Son he had the right as God to do away with Old Testament rules.
A Third Sabbath Controversy （Matt. 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11） 第三次安息日辩论（太12:9-14;可3:1-6;路6:6-11）
The third dispute took place on another Sabbath day. This time Jesus was teaching in a synagogue. The Scribes and Pharisees this time tried to trap Jesus. There was a man present with a withered right hand. Would Jesus heal him on the Sabbath day? The rules of the Pharisees kept a doctor from helping anyone on the Sabbath unless it was a matter of life and death.
Jesus, knowing their hearts, reminded them that if a man’s sheep falls into a pit on the Sabbath he would save the animal. Then, turning to the Pharisees and Scribes, he asked this question, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” （Mark 3:4）。 They said nothing. What Jesus meant was obvious. While the Lord said that some things should not be done on the Sabbath, he had not forbidden every action. God never intended to keep people from doing good deeds. But the idea of mercy never entered the minds of these religious leaders.
So without waiting Jesus healed the man. Immediately the men who had argued with Jesus became his worst enemies. Because they hated Jesus, they began to make plans against him with their other enemies. Before this the patriotic and nationalistic Pharisees hated the Herodians. The Herodians were willing to cooperate with the Romans. Nevertheless, they now joined together and made plans to murder Jesus, a man of mercy.
This angry reaction against Jesus is not too surprising. After all, they thought that Jesus was threatening their religion. The Pharisees taught that man can save himself. Jesus, on the other hand, taught that man cannot save himself but that salvation is a gift of God through himself, the Son of God.
Mission Work in Galilee （Matt. 12:15-21; Mark 3:7-12） 在加利利传道（太12:15-21;可3:7-12）
Although Christ was now hated by the Jewish religious leaders, he was more popular than ever with the common people. Jesus and the disciples went again to the Sea of Galilee. Many people from Judea, Idumaea, Galilee and the area of Tyre and Sidon came in crowds to see Jesus with their own eyes and to have him heal their diseases.
Jesus was filled with mercy. He did heal the sick and throw out demons. As the evil spirits left their victims they called Jesus the “Son of God,” the Messiah （Mark 3:11）。 But Jesus ordered them to be silent. The Savior wanted to be acknowledged by men, not by defeated and scared demons. And many in the crowd did believe in Jesus. They found him to be the one spoken of in Isaiah （42:14）。
Before we leave this part of Christ’s life one other question must be answered. Why did the people continue to rush to Jesus even after he had been totally rejected by their religious leaders? The answer is quite simple. While religious leaders saw Jesus as a rival, some of the people believed Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah. Others saw him as a political savior, a messenger from God who would heal their diseases, give them all they needed for their daily life, and, in time, throw out the hated Romans.
Appointing the Twelve Apostles （Matt 10:2-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16） 设立十二使徒（太10:2-4;可3:13-19;路6:12-16）
0ne evening in the spring of A.D. 28 Jesus went for a walk. Leaving Capernaum he hiked to a mountain top where he could be alone and pray all night long.
As he talked to his Father he was thinking about a big decision he had to make. The time had come to choose a dozen men who would become his students. They would be with him, learn from his words, carry his message to many other people. After Jesus went to heaven, these followers would lead and spread his church on earth.
Jesus reached his decision. He now chose 12 men as his special apostles. He had already called Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Nathanael （Bartholomew）， and Matthew. Now he added Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus （Lebbaeus, Judas）， Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot.
Sermon on the Mount （Matt. 5:1; 7:29; Luke 6:17-49） 在山上讲道（太5:1;7:29;路6:17-49）
By the time Jesus had completed calling “The Twelve” a large crowd had gathered. Jesus found a level place on the mountain and there preached the sermon we now call the Sermon on the Mount. This, the longest sermon of Jesus in the Bible, was a message for those who already believed in him. Thus, his purpose was not to bring them to faith, but to outline what it meant to follow him.
In his sermon Jesus discussed two main subjects: the believer’s relationship to God and his relationship to other people. The Savior mixed these two subjects together as he taught about everything from prayer to charity, from judging to divorce. The whole time he kept emphasizing that faith is a matter of the heart, not of going through outward actions.
The Beatitudes 八福
Jesus’ sermon opened with the statements which we call the “Beatitudes”. The word “beatitude” comes from the Latin word that means “blessed,” the first word in each statement. Only believers have the spiritual gift of being blessed. In the first four beatitudes Jesus discussed the connection between believers and God. In the last four he taught about how believers were to act towards other humans. This is similar to the two parts of the Ten Commandments.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. The poor in spirit are those people who are aware that they are spiritually poor. They know that they have nothing to offer God, that they are full of sin. They feel unworthy of God’s blessings. They are the ones who will enjoy the gifts of God.
Blessed are those who mourn. These are the people who are distressed because of their sin. They know that sin separates them from God. Yet they will be assured of God’s love and forgiveness.
Blessed are the meek. These are the Christians who realize their proper place before God and wish to do his will. They will benefit from the earth, for all things will work for their good both now and in the next life.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. These are the people who eagerly wish and try to be holy as God wishes them to be. They will, through faith in Jesus Christ, be declared holy by God.
Blessed are the merciful. Those Christians are filled with love for all humans. They will obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart. These are the people who honestly say what they believe in their hearts. Like Adam before the fall, they will one day see God, face to face.
Blessed are the peacemakers. They strive for harmony and try to live in peace with everyone and everything. They are God’s children because they are living like their heavenly Father.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness. Such people are willing to be disliked, dishonored, abused, or suffer in any way because of their faith. They will be honored and accepted in God’s Kingdom.
Thus Jesus first taught that true religion was a matter of what was inside （what is in the heart, the gifts promised and provided by God）。 Jesus now went on to condemn how the Pharisees put their trust in outward actions. We are all self-righteous people. They put their trust in their own actions and are only concerned with how they are viewed by other people. Their reward for being only concerned about what others think is soon gone.
People with faith in their hearts have a very important role to play in the world. They are, and must remain, salt and light. Salt is used to preserve food; as a seasoning it adds flavor. It is also necessary for the body to live. In the same way Christians bring decency and order to our dying world. In this way Christians help to preserve it. And it doesn’t take many Christians to have a good effect on society. But Christians are not to remain a hidden force. They are to make their presence known. They are to light up the world’s darkness. They are to be lights of hope for all to see.
At this point in his sermon, Christ became more personal. He briefly spoke of his role as the Messiah. He came not to fight Rome, but to fulfill the Scriptures （Law and Prophets） for man’s credit. When Christ perfectly obeyed the Law he did not do it by just outwardly obeying it. He obeyed because of his pure heart.
His followers must also be concerned with their hearts. They must realize that murder develops from anger, and adultery comes from lust. The Law was written to protect our neighbor’s body and marriage. Truth is truth; lie is lie. People should not need to take oaths, but if they do they should keep them. Revenge is also a sin that has roots in man’s heart. The desire for revenge must be replaced by understanding and love. In all things the example of God should fill the heart of the disciple: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” （Matt. 5:48）。
A pure heart shows itself in a truly Christian life and heart. Acts of holiness should not be done to impress people. Rather they should be done quietly. This applies to giving offerings, praying, and fasting.
Believers should always keep their minds on God’s kingdom. Loving possessions and luxury leads to greed and constant worry.
As we have seen, Jesus in his sermon mixed these two thoughts. The disciple’s heart must be in proper relationship to God and to his fellow man. Jesus was still teaching these same things at the end of his sermon. He taught that believers do not judge hearts. They do not allow the holy things of God to be treated as unclean. Believers speak from their hearts to God through prayer, and he blesses them with the best things. When disciples are faced with false prophets they maintain God’s Word in its truth and purity.
Finally, Jesus wanted the crowd to understand that his words were not just fine sayings that made good sense. They were the words of truth, the words of God, which must be obeyed.
As the people left the mountain that day they were “amazed” （Matt. 7:28）。 Unlike the Scribes, Jesus had not given a talk about small issues. He had taken divine truth and showed what it meant in their everyday lives. He had ended some of their greatest doubts. In the days ahead they would try to sort out the meaning of every statement and how it fit into the rest of his teachings.