Blessed… The Sheep is in the Pit

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


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

2 thoughts on “Blessed… The Sheep is in the Pit

    1. Father we lift Irene up to you and ask for healing for her wound. Lord we know that all healing comes from you and we ask you to be the great physician and lay your healing hands upon her.
      Lord also be with Tim and Carolyn. Give them strength for the journey. Your blessings are ever present and we give you thanks and praise.
      In all these things and more we give you thanks. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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