One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. There in front of him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way.
In this passage Jesus continues to bring our attention to the meaning of Sabbath, and how our human rules may keep us from fully participating in God’s kingdom work. Jesus is accused of breaking Sabbath because He healed people in each of the Gospels – Matthew 12:10, Mark 3:1-6, Luke 13:10-17 and John 9:16. These lessons show us that there is never a wrong time for helping others.
We also hear Jesus ask the religious leaders if it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath. I can’t imagine the Lord being sarcastic but this might be close – in the previous passage a synagogue leader indicated it was not appropriate. Here Jesus puts the question to them and and they have no answer. Perhaps they were afraid of being seen answering wrongly, or maybe some are beginning to think more seriously about the issue. Whatever their rationale, Jesus heals the man, as we know He would even had they answered negatively.
There is also a subtle lesson for us in verse 1 – “He was being carefully watched”. Like it or not, the world is watching what we say and do as Christians and our words and actions will be judged by others. There will always be those ready to oppose us, as many did Jesus during His ministry. We must follow His example, doing what God has called us for, regardless of the world’s opinions.
Gracious God, help us to be faithful followers of Jesus, using Your gifts to us to bring the world to You. Make us strong in the face of opposition, forgiving those who wrong us as You first forgave us. Amen.