Do you think Jesus and the recorders of his ministry are trying to make a point?
Again, Jesus is invited to eat at a religious leader's house. And he accepts. Again, Jesus is confronted with a man in need. And he heals. Again, he questions the religious leaders on their hard hearts and points out their hypocrisy. And, again, the religious leaders have no real answer.
On this occasion, they were closely watching Jesus. Their suspicions about what Jesus would do audaciously reveals just how hard their hearts truly are.
How hard are their hearts? They KNOW that when Jesus is confronted with a person with a disease, he WILL heal him. The more I think about that, the more amazed I am. They have no doubt Jesus will heal the man. Jesus tells them time and again that these healings are a sign that he is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
Yet, to these prominent Judean leaders, Jesus healing people means absolutely nothing. I picture them shaking their heads as it is once again a Sabbath and there goes that Jesus...healing again. For shame!?!
Can we become so rigidly set in our ways that we can mistake good for evil?
Can a man having a pint in a pub be condemned for speaking about Jesus to his mates? Can a group of Christians who perform drug rehabilitation be dismissed because they speak in tongues during prayer and worship? Can someone be chastised for missing a Sunday church meeting because a desperate friend held her up on the phone too long? Is it wrong to encourage a husband to stay faithful to his wife despite his desires to have sex with other men? Is it wrong to hold father/daughter events because some daughters do not know their father? Is it wrong to stop a child rapist even though it might tarnish a whole institution's reputation?
They will know we are Jesus' disciples by the way we dress? By our pilgrimages to Golgotha? By the way we baptise? By the songs we sing? By the stained glass windows? By which day of the week we meet on? By any of our rituals? By our 16th century language?
No. They will know we are Jesus' disciples by our love,one to another. Jesus was not known for his rituals. In fact, he seemed to not care about rituals very much. It was part of the reason he was hated. Even his enemies knew, and at times counted on, the fact that no matter the situation, Jesus would always, ALWAYS help someone who was in need.
In a world filled with hate, suspicion, indignation and violence, are we as resolute as Jesus to always, ALWAYS meet the needs of those around us? In a busy world, are we as aware of the needs around us as Jesus is? Are we following Jesus?
I must confess I don't. Too often, I pull out my Rolodex of excuses whenever someone needs my help. Then I go to church and fill up my Jesus tank and feel better about myself. But, if meeting with my church family doesn't encourage me to put myself aside and love others, what good is it? If we are more concerned with our own reputation and esteem than we are with how those around us are truly doing, then we are not following Jesus.
Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
Father, thank you for your Son's example and for your grace. Help me, please, to love as Jesus loves.