“But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, ‘There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.’” vs. 14
For the leader of the synagogue and other religious authorities obedience to the Sabbath commandment was at the heart of what it meant to be a Jew. It’s what distinguished them from the Gentiles. The rules for what could be done on the Sabbath had been carefully hammered out by the scribes over hundreds of years…and healing didn’t make the cut. And Jesus didn’t care! He healed the woman knowing full well that he was in violation of the commandment and most of us would have applauded. What we miss is that the rules and red tape are still around…the Jews had 39 categories of sabbath laws…our government agencies have tens of thousands of regulatory laws. There’s nothing wrong with having laws…in fact, most of the time the rule of law is a blessing. But sometimes our enthusiasm for enforcing rules directly affects what can be done for distressed and hurting people. We’ve heard a lot about obedience to the law in the recent debates about citizenship and immigration. Rigid enforcement has had sad and heartbreaking consequences. For a follower of Jesus compassion always has the last word, even if it means precious rules are broken.
Thought for the Day: What might lead me to break a law?