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Lessons in Grace

Luke 6:8-11
But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shrivelled hand, ‘Get up and stand in front of everyone.’ So he got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?’ He looked round at them all, and then said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did so, and his hand was completely restored. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus. (NIVUK)

Jesus knew that the religious leaders were hoping He would heal this man on the Sabbath day so that they could accuse Him of 'lawbreaking', and they were not disappointed.  Of course, Jesus is never fooled by anybody; He knew everything they were thinking, and it was not God honouring - they needed to know the truth.  He also knew that His disciples needed training in how to deal with this sort of confrontation (Acts 4:8-12).  So, He met the challenge head-on, in full view of a packed synagogue - showing His authority over everything dysfunctional.  The man's hand instantly gained strength and movement, resuming its full size as the wasted muscles were renewed.

As so often, He answered critical thoughts by a public question, ‘Is it right to do good on God's holy day?’  The answer had to be "Yes".  They knew that, because if their animal fell into a well on the Sabbath, they would immediately rescue it (Luke 14:1-6).  Was that because they were concerned about animal welfare?  Perhaps, but the animals were valuable and therefore needed to be protected from danger (Exodus 21:33-34).  Jesus was saying that this man was much more valuable to God than any animal, and needed to be helped back to full function (Matthew 12:11-12).   

If Jesus’ critics had admitted that it was right to do good on the Sabbath, they would have proved that Jesus was right, and they were wrong.  There is no record of any answer, except to collectively express their anger, presumably verbally with hostile body language.  What a strange thing for clergy and theological administrators to do in 'church'!  They had such little regard for that place of worship, or the Son of God who they should have worshipped: they simply proved that they worshipped themselves as they discussed how to dispose of Jesus (Mark 11:18).  

Jesus is not a convenient ‘Yes-man’.  He knows that everybody is a sinner (including religious people) and that no one will know the truth unless God reveals it to them.  So, He taught the theory and practical lessons in one session.  The right response would have been awe and worship, repenting of wrong thoughts and proud hearts.  But instead, they hardened their hearts, as Jesus knew they would (Romans 9:18).  On the other hand, the disciples learned from this lesson that they must not burden the Early Church with unnecessary rules (Acts 15:28-29).  So, what about us?  It is essential to take God's lessons seriously (that is how we learn).  Then we should ask Him to search our hearts (Psalm 139:23-24) so that we can root out anything which is offensive to Him.  Ask Him for a softened heart to His truth and love.  Then we will work more effectively with Christ in our church or workplace and be able to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2).

Father God. Thank You for teaching every sinner who is willing to listen and learn. Please forgive me when I have been stubborn in resisting Your Word, or even wanting a totally different way from Yours. Help me to develop more of an appetite to learn from Your Word and to be softer hearted in my worship - appreciating all of Your grace to me. I want to be able to help others; please show me how I may best share the lessons You have already taught me. For Your glory's sake. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams