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“So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.”

- 1 Peter 1:14-15


Jesus Doesn’t Follow Your Rules

Jesus Doesn’t Follow Your Rules

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As parents, one of the jobs we have is to make rules for our children. We do this because we want to keep our children safe and we want to help them make good choices. The Bible tells us God is our father (Ephesians 4:6) and we are His children (John 1:12), and in the Old Testament you can find many rules that God gave to His children.

It is documented that there were 613 laws that comprised the Mosaic law or the Torah, and over time, religious leaders added thousands of other laws to this. These laws were given all kinds of names: the Talmud, the Mishnah, the Gemara, and the Midrash. So, if God is the parent, then what happened along the way is the children decided that they needed to make even more rules based on the rules that God gave, as if they knew just as well as God. According to

“For example, in the Mosaic Law, one of the commandments is to keep the Sabbath holy, which means that Jews were not supposed to work on Saturdays. But to clarify this, the Jewish scholars created 39 separate categories of what 'work' means, and within those 39 categories there are many sub-categories. So to follow the rule of not working on the Sabbath, there are literally thousands of sub-rules to follow, including how many steps you can take, and how many letters you can write on the Sabbath.”

It is this law that the leader of the synagogue accused Jesus and the people of breaking in Luke 13. It is a seven-verse passage describing a time when Jesus healed a woman “who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight” (v.11). Jesus had been teaching in the synagogue; he saw this woman and “he called her over and said, ‘Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!’ Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!” (v.12-13). Jesus performed a miracle—but, according to the leader of the synagogue, on the wrong day.

“But the leader in charge of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath day. ‘There are six days of the week for working,’ he said to the crowd. ‘Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath.’” (v. 14)

Here is the leader of the synagogue, upset that a woman was healed, all because of what day it was, because his understanding of the law had been violated. Now remember, it was the leaders who would call for Jesus’ death based on his claim to be equal with God; they called it blasphemy. This leader had just seen evidence of Jesus’ authority, but he was only focused on this violation of his interpretation of the law. He missed the miracle! Aren’t we guilty of this sometimes? We can miss miracles because of our miserable minds, our selfish attitudes, because we don’t think they are happening the way we feel they should. We can set our rules or expectations and when God doesn’t seem to meet them we become indignant like the leader, and we might be missing a miracle. We can fall into this trap of judging people based on our own interpretation of God’s laws. We would do well to remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:2: “For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” And also that “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17). 

“But the Lord replied, ‘You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water?’” (v. 15) 

This was a problem with a lot of the rules and laws that man was trying to follow; man decided that he would define what was work and what wasn’t. So to untie a donkey and lead it to water didn’t count as work but to heal someone miraculously did. We can be so quick to point the finger at others when we have hypocrisy in our own lives.

“Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye.” (Matthew 7:5)

Then Jesus further explained in verse 16: “‘This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?’” This is Jesus’ perspective, something we should strive for each day (1 Samuel 16:7). He saw a daughter of Abraham who was tied up by Satan and Jesus untied her: He saved her and brought her to Him, the Living Water. 

“‘Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.’” (Matthew 5:17)

“For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God.” (Romans 10:4)

The leader of the synagogue expected Jesus to follow his rules when it was those rules that Jesus came to fulfill, but the leader of the synagogue did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah, the one who would fulfill the law. Because Jesus is the Savior of the world, He does not have to follow our rules. After defeating death and proving all of His claims and His authority, Jesus explained to the disciples in Luke 24:44, “‘When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.’” The laws all point to our need for a savior. Let’s not focus on our rules and our expectations of how we think God should behave, but let us pray as the Psalmist prayed in 119:18: “Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.”

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.


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