Pray | Lord, where I am critical or maybe standing back from you, may I know you are merciful and kind and come closer in response.
The Pharisees were out to discredit Jesus, and their work to test and trap him seemed endless. In their eyes, everything came down to the law. Jesus responds by acknowledging and respecting the law but replaces malice with mercy. Jesus doesn’t just see the law; he sees the people.
Read | Matthew 12:10-14; Micah 6:6-8
Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.
With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 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 with your God.
Hey Jesus, is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath? Should this adulterous woman be stoned? Your disciples unlawfully picked that grain on the Sabbath! You healed a crippled man on the Sabbath?! These are just some of the questions and accusations thrown at Jesus. The response to his compassion was constant criticism and eventually death. The Pharisees didn’t care about hunger, shriveled hands, invalids, and the like. They focused on rules and violations, thus missing miracles and restoration.
Though God gave the Law, he consistently also spoke of mercy. In fact, he delights in showing mercy (Micah 7:18). Through Jesus, God continued to show kindness and compassion, rendered aid and healing, and offered forgiveness and our own salvation. Ultimately, he closes the gap between the law and our sin.
We can bring our rams, oils, calves, tithes, offerings, volunteering and more yet still miss the mark of what God desires from us. Our questions might be: How do we respond to Jesus? Do we isolate and pick apart what we don’t like about him, or do we take in the whole of who he is, trusting him and coming near to him? Are we ever as blind as the Pharisees, sometimes missing miracles and restorations?
Today’s devotion was written for and originally published in DailyLife Devotionals for Five Oaks Church