The Spirit of the Sabbath

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Mark 3:1-6
Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

In Jesus’ time, the legalistic Pharisees followed strictly the laws of the Sabbath. It was unlawful to do any kind of work on the Sabbath. Jesus asked an important question: What is the right (lawful) thing to do on the Sabbath? To do good or to do evil?

Not to do good is to do evil; not to save life is to kill – that is the implication of doing nothing. So Jesus healed the man because it is the right thing to do – Sabbath or not!

Application: Beware of being legalistic – conforming to the ‘form’ but neglecting the ‘essence.’ Many things I can follow to the letter of the law e.g. I can do nothing on the Sabbath and follow the Sabbath law. But in doing nothing, I disobey the greatest commandment to love… Love is an active word. It is never doing nothing.

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