One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.
Floyd Roseberry, Retired Pastor
In this text we find two incidents of Jesus’ breaking the Sabbath rules of the religious leaders. In the first, he and his disciples picked some heads of grain to eat, and in the second he healed a man with a shriveled hand during a Sabbath service. The first thought that came to me was, “Think outside the box.” Over a period of some 200 years the Pharisees had created many rules that boxed people in on what they could do on the Sabbath. For example, you were not to look in a mirror on the Sabbath. You might see a gray hair and be tempted to pull it out, and that would be “work” on the Sabbath. Jesus lived outside the box and threatened the whole religious system.
The other thought that came to me was, “People versus rules.” It is easy to get caught up in rules and accepted ways of behavior, and we forget that with God people come first. For Jesus, the healing of the man with the shriveled hand was far more important than the Sabbath rule that there should be no healing on the Sabbath. Jesus was deeply distressed at such a misplaced value system. And literally at the risk of his life, he healed the man.
With Jesus, people come first! Is there any “rule” we have in our churches, or any feelings in ourselves that put other things before people? Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, and every other day, and he wants us to put people first!
Lord Jesus, give me the freedom to so live that meeting human need in the name and authority of Jesus begins the central agenda of my life.