What must be done on the Sabbath in order to keep from violating it? This is an important question to first century Jews. Exodus 20:8-11 states,
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.The Sabbath is a day of rest; no work is to be done. But at some point clarification is necessary. What does it mean to work? Can I draw water from a well? Can I cook? How far can I walk? By Jesus' day the religious leaders had become experts in the Law of Moses defining the boundaries, the parameters for Torah observance. When a faithful Jew wants to know what can and cannot be done on the Sabbath, the religious experts must give guidance because the Law of Moses does not get into specifics.