BRP Insight Post for Week of January 28, 2019
Mark 3 opens with an interesting story about the Sabbath. Jesus is recorded as healing multiple times on the Sabbath, a day that work was not permitted.
Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand.2 Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.
3 Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” 4 Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him.
5 He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! 6 At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus.
God created Sabbath as a good thing for us, a day for rest and enjoyment, but the religious leaders of Jesus’ day had turned it into another opportunity for rules and judgment. Because Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, the Pharisees began to plot Jesus’ death. Seems hard to imagine that a good act on behalf of a suffering man would yield so much anger and hatred.
It’s easy for me to just look at this story and shake my head over the Pharisees and their actions. But in reading the passage this week, I was struck by verse 2. Instead of entering into the synagogue to worship and focus on what God may have for them that morning, the Pharisees were trying to catch Jesus breaking the “law”. What if their focus had been on hearing from God? Would they have seen Jesus’ actions in a different light?
Just coming to church on Saturday evening on Sunday morning isn’t enough to check off the Sabbath box; God has much more for us than that. He wants our corporate worship to be a way to prepare our hearts and minds for the week ahead. When we lose sight of that, it can become about a whole lot of other things like “Did I like the songs that were sung?” “Did the speaker give me a meaty message?” and on and on. For those of us that work in the church world the day can become about tasks and making sure things get done correctly. Worship can easily become about us and not about God at all. When I’m focused on God and what He has for me, everything and everyone else fades into the background. I know it can be way too easy for me to become a Pharisee and lose sight of why I’m there.
Executive Director of Education and Outreach