Working on the Sabbath

The religious leaders called themselves the children of Abraham, yet they showed no compassion for the sick and suffering. 

Abraham had compassion for the people in Sodom and Gomorrah.  He interceded for them (Genesis 18).

They called themselves the children of God, yet they had no compassion for those whom Jesus healed on the Sabbath like the cripple who was sick for 38 years (John 5 ); the woman who was bent over (Luke 13:10-17) and the man born blind (John 9).

The religious leaders had turned God’s Sabbath from a delight to a burden.  When they saw the man who had been healed at the pool carrying his mat, they objected.  They said to him, “It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed” (John 5:10).  If this were true, Jesus would not have told the man, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk” (verse 8).  Jesus would have been encouraging the man to break the law but it is clear that taking up one’s mat is not a violation.  This was a man’s law, not God’s.

In the Good News Translation, it says, “This is a Sabbath, and it is against our Law for you to carry your mat.”  Note they said “our law” because they had added so many restrictions to the Sabbath. 

They accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath yet they broke the law themselves by plotting to kill Him on the Sabbath because He healed someone on that day (John 5:16).

Let us not be like the religious leaders and become so particular and nic-picking that we neglect what is truly at the heart of God’s law.  The law was summed up into two commandments:  love God and love your neighbor.  God desires mercy and compassion from those of us who call ourselves His children.  When someone is in need we help them.  It doesn’t matter if this happens on the Sabbath day. 

The Sabbath is rest from secular work not charitable work.  Jesus was doing charitable work.  He was restoring God’s creation through healing.  When His disciples were hungry, He allowed them to pick corn to eat.  The religious leaders objected, of course.  Why didn’t any of them offer to provide these men food?  They were always quick to criticize and condemn but never offered any compassion.  They were hypocrites.  They would sooner help an animal that was in trouble than a person.  

When they begrudged Jesus for healing the man with the withered hand, He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?  Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep?  Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:11, 12).  They placed more value on animals than on people. 

God’s children place the needs of others first and don’t bog them down with do’s and don’ts.   Like Jesus, we must do the work of our Father, especially on the Sabbath.  Be like Jesus, who was a true representation of His Father.  In everything He did and said, Jesus showed that God is love.  He showed that God is merciful, compassionate and forgiving.  We must never rest from doing good unto others.

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