Jesus left that place and went into their synagogue. A man with a withered hand was there. Wanting to bring charges against Jesus, they asked, “Does the Law allow a person to heal on the Sabbath?” Jesus replied, “Who among you has a sheep that falls into a pit on the Sabbath and will not take hold of it and pull it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! So the Law allows a person to do what is good on the Sabbath.” Then Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he did and it was made healthy, just like the other one. The Pharisees went out and met in order to find a way to destroy Jesus (Matthew 12:9-14, Common English Bible).
On two occasions in my life, I have spent a Sunday in the hospital. Boy, am I thankful that the Pharisees weren’t in charge of my care.
In today’s reading, Jesus is going to heal a man’s hand and the self-righteous Pharisees start to question Jesus about healing on the Sabbath. There intent wasn’t to learn more about the law. They knew that already and had already applied their interpretations to it. They wanted to set a trap. And, as usual, Jesus blew their trap apart. He asks a very legitimate question, “Who, if they had a sheep that had fallen into a pit would not go get it, even on the Sabbath?” (Keith paraphrased version) Livestock was, and still is, very valuable, in some cases, the most valuable property they owned. Of course they would go after it. Then Jesus continues, “Isn’t this man or any other more valuable than sheep?”
In other words, you will help a sheep, but not a person? That doesn’t even make good sense! For a bunch of guys who seemed to know so much about Scripture, it seems to me that they have forgotten the words of the Prophet Micah, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly[a] with your God. (Micah 6:8, New International Version). These guys might have known the law and been the spiritual police out to enforce the law like a Texas Highway Patrol officer out writing speeding tickets on a holiday weekend (No, I am not saying that is a bad thing. I have great understanding and respect for what they do). They didn’t act justly. They constantly failed to show mercy. And, I’m not sure there was a bit of humility in any of the Pharisees.
Jesus, the “Good Shepherd” on the other hand, shows mercy to one of his sheep just as any shepherd would go after a sheep in the pit. Jesus healed the man, the Pharisees grumbled and planned, and the world moved on. But the most important part here is, Jesus showed us one of many ways to show mercy to the Lord. I may not be able to heal a withered hand, on the Sabbath or other wise, but I can still find ways to show mercy. It is up to you and me to decide that is what we will do.
How do you follow Jesus’ example and show mercy?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy, Peace and Thanksgiving,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved