Mark 3:1-6 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. 2 And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” 4 And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
We’re going to start with this Sabbath Story and end with Covid 19.
There is a great challenge in life and faith to see the trees and the forest. The details and the big picture. In this story the Pharisees are watching to see if Jesus breaks a Sabbath law. They are missing the big picture. I can hear them saying, “I mean, he could do that any of the other 6 days of the week. He disregards our rules.”
It is too easy to pay attention to “following the rules” instead of being engaged in a relationship. Here’s what I’ve discovered, the people that are the biggest “rule followers” often seem to put their confidence in their ability to follow the rules… at least the ones they taut as important.
The rules are good to help you learn the how and the why. I remember my guitar teacher in college tell us that we had to learn all the rules and follow the rules. If we got good enough (one day, years after class) we would know enough to know how and when to break the rules and still make it work.
Sometimes there are rules like the whole, “I before E, except after C.” Except when your foreign neighbor Keith receives eight counterfeit beige sleighs from feisty caffeinated weight lifters.
One one hand when I think about exceptions to rules, I think about people feeling over privileged. We all think we’re the exceptions to the rules. On the other hand there can be too much focus on rules for rules sake..
Right before this passage, Jesus says the sabbath was made for people, not people for the sabbath. The rule is here to serve people. So for the Sabbath, you go back to the 10 commandments. Keep it Holy. Don’t work…. So people have created all sorts of other rules about what it means to be holy and what exactly “work” is.
I could get on a long rant here, lets just says, how do we focus on the big picture, and the things that really matter without disregarding the rules.
Our challenge is to not be so litigious that we miss the point, and not so callous to the rules that we become a rebellious disobedient people.
This balance is going to be incredibly vital as we wrestle with all the “rules” and the “big picture” of coming out of self-isolation. We’ve got to think through the how and the why. And we’ve got to hear Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:12 “Everything is permissible for me but not everything is beneficial.”
What is Holy? What is loving? These are incredibly difficult questions as we think about living out our faith, and living with one another in a new normal.
Let me pray for us.
God, I wish all this was over. Please help us to grow in our faith through this as we wrestle with so many new ways of being. Help us to keep our love for you and our neighbor at the forefront of everything we do. Help us to be faithful to you. God, we lift up our health care workers, those studying vaccines and those making decisions for our well being. Guide them and help them to hear your voice. In Jesus’ name. Amen.