Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Jesus showed the Critics what God's Law is for

On another Sabbath day, a man with a deformed right hand was in the synagogue while Jesus was teaching. The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew their thoughts. He said to the man with the deformed hand, ‘Come and stand in front of everyone.’ So the man came forward. Then Jesus said to his critics, ‘I have a question for you. Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?’”
(Luke 6:6-9,

The religious leaders were continuing to scrutinize Jesus ministry (just read the previous chapters). Here they were in the synagogue, not to worship, but to watch Jesus closely. And they wondered how he would deal with the man with the “deformed right hand.” Their interpretation of keeping the Sabbath prohibited healing except in life-threatening situations; thus, if Jesus were to heal the man, instead of rejoicing in the relief of human suffering, they could accuse Jesus of breaking the Sabbath.

Jesus could have avoided conflict by healing the man on another day. If he had waited, however, he would have been submitting to the Pharisees and showing that their made-up rules were equal to God’s law. But the commandment about the Sabbath was never meant to oppress people.

Jesus met needs, regardless of the day or time. Healing the man revealed Jesus’ authority over the Sabbath and showed that in the new Kingdom (God’s kingdom), every day is holy; salvation and healing can come to anyone on any day. The Sabbath, while given to God’s people as a day of rest and worship, was also a day for people to be merciful and kind to those in need. And that is exactly what Jesus intended to show the Pharisees when he asked the man to step forward.

Think about this: Jesus clearly framed the issue with his questions to the Pharisees: “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” Honouring God’s laws should be positive and life-giving, not negative and oppressive. Yet many Christians seem to be joyless rule-keepers, afraid of God’s judgment and punishment. When we focus on the commandments instead of the Commandment-Giver and on the letter of the law instead of its spirit, we lose sight of the law’s ultimate purpose – to glorify God. The emphasis should be off us and on Him.


Reference: Life Application Study Bible Devotional: Daily Wisdom from the Life of Jesus (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2011)

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