Daily Reflection – 9/9/19
On a certain Sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the Sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him. But he realized their intentions and said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up and stand before us.” And he rose and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” Looking around at them all, he then said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was restored. But they became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus. (Luke 6: 6-11)
The scribes and Pharisees wanted to catch Jesus in the act of breaking the Sabbath ritual so they might accuse him of breaking God’s law. In a few penetrating words Luke records that Jesus knew their thoughts. They were filled with fury and contempt for Jesus because they put their own thoughts of right and wrong above God. They were ensnared in their own legalism because they did not understand or see the purpose of God.
Jesus shows their fallacy by pointing to God’s intention for the Sabbath: to do good and to save life rather than to do evil or to destroy life. Christians celebrate Sunday as the Lord’s Day, to commemorate God’s work of redemption in Jesus Christ and the new work of creation he accomplished through Christ’s death and resurrection. Taking “our sabbath rest” is a way of expressing honor to God for all that he has done for us.
Such “rest” however does not exempt us from our love for our neighbor. If we truly love the Lord above all else, then the love of God will overflow to love of neighbor as well. Do you honor the Lord in the way you celebrate Sunday, the Lord’s Day and in the way you treat you neighbor?
Or are we more like the Pharisees in Luke’s story than we care to admit? How have we managed to turn God’s gift of the Sabbath into a burden?
One could argue, for instance, that we have gone to the opposite extreme of the Pharisees. There are no restrictions on what we can do on our Sabbath day. Our kids have soccer and baseball. The stores are open. Sundays for many is a day to catch up on chores and projects around the house. And worship? That becomes one more thing to squeeze into a busy day.
Jesus says that the Sabbath was made for humankind. It is meant to be life-giving, not life-draining. It is meant to be a gift, a time apart from the relentless demands of daily life, a time to rest in God’s presence, a time to savor the goodness of God’s creation and celebrate God’s deliverance, a time to do what is good and what gives life.
The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath. What might our Sabbaths look if we truly followed his rule of loving one another?
Prayer of The Day
Lord, in your victory over sin and death on the cross and in your resurrection you give us the assurance of sharing in the eternal rest of heaven. Transform my heart with your love that I may freely serve my neighbor for his good and find joy and refreshment in the celebration of Sunday as the Lord’s Day.
We might tend after reading this story to condemn the Pharisees and scribes. However, we too often behave as they did. How often do we attend church with others, pray together, sing together and discuss our love of God together and then, as soon as we leave Church , we return to the same people issues we had before we entered Church –finding fault with others, not forgiving others, and generally acting as our Sunday worship was a nice interlude but in truth not part of our lives.