We’re now starting chapter 6 of the Gospel of Luke. You may want to read Luke 6:1-11 before continuing with this post.
Because they followed the Covenant of Moses, Judaism had many traditions. Of these, the keeping of the Sabbath stirred up the most controversy in the ministry of Jesus.
The law of the Sabbath was very simple. Exodus 20:8-11 plainly states that the seventh day of the week was to be set apart to the Lord. No work was to be done by any person or animal on that day.
You may think that the Scripture was clear enough for anyone to follow. But…religion likes to make things complicated. So religion asks the question; exactly what is work?
So, over time, the religious leaders of Israel took it upon themselves to define what work was. They drew up a lengthy list of what you could and couldn’t do on the Sabbath. It’s in these man-made Sabbath rules that we can see how foolish religion can get.
For instance: On the Sabbath, you could pick a chair up and carry it across the room. You could not drag the chair across your room, because by making a line in the dirt floor, you were “plowing”.
Normally, you were allowed to drink wine on the Sabbath…unless you had a toothache. Then you couldn’t, because the wine might hit your tooth, deaden the pain, and healing was forbidden on the Sabbath.
One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
The Lord and His disciples were really in trouble here. They broke three rules. Not only did they pick some grain (reaping), they rubbed them (winnowing), and ate them (grinding). Of course the only law they were breaking was the traditions passed down by the Rabbi’s.
Jesus explained to the Pharisees the foolishness of their traditions.
Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
It’s important to note that Jesus called himself the Son of Man in this instance. He was emphasizing His humanity. The Sabbath was created by God for the good of mankind.
Our human bodies would break down if we had to work seven days a week. It’s not healthy. So God instituted the concept of Sabbath for our good. It was never meant to be a burden.
I’m amazed at how often we fail to realize how our religious traditions cause people to get the wrong view of God. By our speech and actions, the world sometimes gets the idea that we serve a vindictive, angry, and judgmental God. I’m sure it grieves His heart.
On another Sabbath, Jesus was in a synagogue. He saw a man whose right hand was unusable. He called the man forward. Of course, the Pharisees were upset, wondering what Jesus would do.
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?”
Good question! The Lord gets to the heart of what the Sabbath was all about. Sabbath should be rest and restoration for the whole person.
He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.
This is proof that sometimes religion can be so illogical. They just witnessed a miracle, clearly performed by God, Himself. That means God approves of healing on the Sabbath. Yet, instead of re-examining their beliefs, they want to do away with Christ.
We need to learn to show people the love of God and not the traditions of religion.
Question: How have you seen religious traditions hurt people?
© 2022 Nick Zaccardi