They were watching his every move, noting how they might charge him, ready to pounce as soon as the opportunity presented itself. Don’t you know their mouths watered with anticipation when they saw the chance to corner him using their laws. They (the Pharisees) were in the synagogue, Jesus was in the synagogue, and so was a man with a shriveled hand. Back in Exodus 20, God through Moses gave the Israelites the command to ‘Remember the Sabbath Day’ and keep it holy. Since then, the religious leaders had added requirement after requirement… this was how they were going to entrap Jesus. So they asked him-
“Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” Matthew 12:10
Jesus returned their question with a question of his own…
“If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take a hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:11-12
The Pharisees left to go plot Jesus’ death, the man walked away restored, and Jesus moved on because he knew his time on earth was not yet over.
As I walk away from the story, I wonder… have I ever acted like the Pharisees. No, I don’t mean that I’ve tried to trap Jesus. But have I ever let rules, regulations, and procedures become more important than helping people… than doing good when it was in my power to do it? Have I as a teacher ever missed helping a student because I was too tied to my curriculum and lesson plan? Have I as a youth leader ever missed the need of a student because it didn’t fit into the schedule of activities I had planned? Have I as a Christian ever missed opportunities to do good because it didn’t fit into how I did church? I wish I could answer each question with a no but that wouldn’t be honest.
Jesus, thank you for setting such a great example for me to follow. You knew the man-made rules the Pharisees added to God’s laws but you didn’t let them hinder you from seeing a need, touching a man, and changing his life. As I go out today, may I not miss the opportunities you give me to do good to others… even if I have to move past my rules or usual procedures to do it. Guide me, Lord. Amen!