1  One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. 2 There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy. 3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” 4 But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away.

     5 Then he asked them, “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?” 6 And they had nothing to say.  Luke 14:1-6 (NIV)

This was not a cordial invitation to a banquet. Jesus’ invitation was a setup in which the Pharisees hoped to catch Jesus breaking the law. Jesus knew their motives, and silenced them by asking questions they could not (or would not) answer. Jesus first asked if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath. This was the “test,” the reason Jesus had been invited to the banquet in the first place, and Jesus simply challenged them with the question of the day. He then offered an appropriate example of “work” that every one of them would do on a Sabbath. Would they help an ox out of a ditch if it had gotten stuck in it on a Sabbath? Of course they would, but none dared admit to it. Therefore they could say nothing when Jesus healed the man with dropsy.

Has Jesus given blanket permission to disregard the observance of the Sabbath (now observed on Sunday in most Christian churches)? Not hardly. Most of our excuses for not honoring Sunday as a day of rest have to do with convenience, not emergencies. Jesus was confronting the Pharisees in their hypocrisy.

Do we have a hypocritical spirit when it comes to honoring the Sabbath or Sunday as a day of rest? Are we quick to criticize those who work on Sunday (or Saturday), yet by our own choices of what we do on Sunday (or Saturday) do we require others to work? Do we expect stores and restaurants to be open for us on the day we say we honor as a day of rest? Do we choose to clean house inside where no one can see, but criticize our neighbor who is mowing his grass?

Lord, help us to see our own motives clearly as we choose how we will honor you. Help us to not have a critical spirit when we look at others. “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” (Psalm 51:10 NIV)

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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