On another Sabbath day, a man with a deformed right hand was in the synagogue while Jesus was teaching. The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.
But Jesus knew their thoughts. He said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” So the man came forward. Then Jesus said to his critics, “I have a question for you. Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day of doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?”
He looked around at them one by one and then said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! At this, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage and began to discuss what to do with him.
According to the tradition of the religious leaders, no healing could be done on the Sabbath. Healing, they held, was practicing medicine, and a person could not practice his or her profession on the Sabbath. The religious leaders were more concerned about keeping their laws than relieving a person of suffering.
The religious leaders emphasized what “thou shalt not” do more than what good service could be given. By contrast, Jesus focused on doing good and helping those in need.
How would an outsider characterize your Christian practice? Are you focused on what good you can offer or on which sins you’re supposed to avoid? Are you more concerned about what people shouldn’t be doing than you are about working for God’s Kingdom? What about your church?
If you or your church is more concerned about avoiding sin than about doing good, take a hard look at Jesus’ interactions with the religious leaders of his time. If you spend more time feeling guilty for sin than brainstorming ways to do good (Hebrews 10:22, 24), look at Jesus’ response to sinners who come to him. If you feel defeated every Sunday after church, look at Jesus’ teachings about the Sabbath.