The Sabbath was once-weekly rest from normal business to worship and honor God. Those who sought to gain commercial advantage during this respite were not only upsetting the community’s economy, they were also offending God. Everyone knew the Sabbath requirements, so no one in the nation could plead ignorance of this all important rule.
By Jesus’ day, Sabbath rules had grown into an elaborate system that had forgotten God’s prior concern for the poor, helpless, and hurting. Absolutely no effort could be expanded on the Sabbath, regardless of the need. Jesus opened Himself to prosecution with His recovery of God’s intentions for the Sabbath. The ancient wood-gatherer, however, could make no appeal to higher principles such as helping a person or animal in distress when weeklong laziness or greed was the obvious reason for his Sabbath work.
NUMBERS 15:32-36- 32. And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day.
33. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.
34. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him.
35. And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.
36. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.