Was Jesus a Hypocrite?

by Bethany

Today’s Readings: Micah 4, Luke 13

That is, did He express “zeal for those virtues which he neglect[ed] to practice” [1]. For example, although He claimed to “fulfill” the Law [2] and knew it read, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” [3], did He “abolish” it [4] when He healed a woman on the Sabbath?

He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And there was a woman who for eighteen years had had a sickness caused by a spirit … When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your sickness” [5].

At once, someone recognized His transgression:

But the synagogue official, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, began saying to the crowd in response, “There are six days in which work should be done; so come during them and get healed and not on the Sabbath day” [6].

Jesus responded:

You hypocrites, does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the stall and lead him away to water him? And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day? [7].

Jesus was not a hypocrite; the religious leaders were. He knew that the Law – as it was given to Moses – merely read, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Yet, Jewish law added to the commandment when it defined “holy” to be the prohibition of thirty-nine categories of activity on Shabbat [8].

The religious leaders were hypocrites. They focused on peripheral distractions of their own creation and “neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness” [9]. They were selfish, using religion to protect themselves from inconvenience (a woman’s healing) and help themselves in convenience (an ox’s nutrition). They were not interested in keeping the Sabbath holy; they cared about their donkeys and their money [10].

Jesus, however, was not a hypocrite. Unlike His opponents, He loved the Sabbath and kept it holy. He did not add to the Law; He fulfilled it.


Lord, You love an honest heart. Yet, we confess that we are prone to hypocrisy and making our religion a farce. Forgive our hearts that seek to add to your Word. Show us how keep your law in faith, as we fully trust in your having met its demands in Christ.  Amen.


[1]  Samuel Johnson, Rambler 14, P. 154. In Chalmers, Alexander: Full text of “The British Essayists.”  |  |  [2]  Matthew 5:17 NASB  |  [3]  Exodus 20:8 NASB. See also Exous 31:12-17.  |  [4]  See FN2 |  [5]  Luke 13:10-13 NASB  |  [6]  Luke 13:14 NASB  |  [7] Luke 13:15-16 NASB  |  [8] Wikipedia, Activities Prohibited on Shabbat |  [9]  Matthew 23:23 NASB  |  [10]  See Luke 16:14

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