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Pharisee & Me: Small

August 18, 2010

We think obsessing over rules makes God big. We think it keeps God in his rightful place. We think wrong.

On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there.

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?” 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. Luke 6:6-11

Now maybe you could say they were just looking for a reason to be angry with Jesus. Maybe, they certainly were looking for something to hang on him. I think it is a little larger than that though. It seems that they have already decided something about Jesus, that he doesn’t honor God or obey the commands.

That does seem to be guiding them. I think in their minds they think they are protecting God. I realize that they are really only trying to protect their status quo but I doubt that they would recognize that. I think that is the danger when all you think about is the rules. In your attempt to honor God and keep Him big you actually make him quite small.

That is the danger when you obsess over rules. They actually rule you and without even recognizing it Jesus is no longer Lord.

From the text you can also see that they skew the love we show our neighbor. Instead of wanting to do good we find ourselves focused on keeping a set of rules. Remember, Jesus kept the law so he was truly honoring the command. What he wasn’t doing was honoring their interpretation of the command. I’m guessing those Pharisees wouldn’t have even seen a difference between what God said and what they expected.

So what does it mean? Well I think it is hard to have a dynamic, faith filled relationship following Jesus if you are only worried about keeping commands. Remember, I’m not saying they don’t matter because commands do, I am saying with such a focus you can miss the forest for the trees.

If you wonder why a church is dead, look no further than a focus on rules.
I also think as I mentioned that it hinders our ability to love others. Why reach out or evangelize when people don’t want to hear the rules. Why show love when we are supposed to get people to follow rules. You will notice teaching focused totally on keeping rules.

No, we need commands but we need the commands kept in context. Understand what Jesus meant when he said I desire mercy not sacrifice. Grasp that it is about doing good.

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