Both of these Sabbath encounters, picking the grain and healing the man with the withered hand, remind us of what God intended for the Sabbath, foreshadowing the coming kingdom when all sorrow and illness will be healed for His people for all time. It’s a reminder of what we lost in the garden but also of where we are headed as sons and daughters of the King. Through Jesus, the kingdom of God invades this fallen world with a glimpse of what it will be like when Jesus returns.
As Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus has the ultimate authority to restore what God intended for the Sabbath. Because of His intimate relationship with the Father, He gives us God’s perspective. The conflicts with the Pharisees highlight the conflict between man’s authority and God’s authority. Rules are not a bad thing…in fact, many times they can be helpful…but when following the rules takes the place of loving people, it’s no longer pleasing to God…even if they are followed with good intentions. The Pharisees designed rules to help folks know how to keep the Sabbath. They thought their rules clarified what God intended. Before long their rules became the authority instead of God’s Word. Self-righteousness had set in. The self-righteous mind is not interested in mercy or truth…just following the rules. Their traditions became like old wine skins that could not contain the message of the gospel that Jesus brings…a gospel of compassion of mercy, a gospel of God’s love for all of us.
So who has the authority over your life? Is it the rules that you have set up or is it God’s Word?
What pleases God is a heart devoted to Him and a life characterized, that’s deeply marked, by compassion and mercy. Faith produces a merciful heart…and whenever we show mercy it reflects the life of Jesus in us. When we see someone showing mercy to others, we recognize, “There’s someone who has experienced mercy”. But if we have not experienced mercy ourselves, then, chances are, we will not show mercy to others. And religion…faith without of mercy does not please God (Micah 6.8 “What does the LORD require from you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”)
So what characterizes your life? What are you deeply marked by? Would others describe you as compassionate or merciful? If compassion and mercy don’t mark your walk with Jesus, what does? Pursuing God is not a matter of meticulously following rules but learning more and more how to love God with all that we are and learning more and more to love others selflessly. That’s what it means to follow Jesus.
Until next time…stay salty.
“May our lives be marked by the compassion of Jesus as we seek to follow Him this week.”
This post is based on a sermon from our Luke series, Live & Love Like Jesus: The Great Galilean Ministry. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster