Sunday, December 29, 2013

365 Days with God - Day 9

I'm giving myself a challenge. Read the Bible each day for a whole year, following the ESV Study Guide 1-year plan. Each day, I will post whatever God has revealed to me in His Word, and how it is changing me. A friend of mine once said that nothing has changed her life as much as reading the bible each day - and I'm excited for how this will change me. Join me on an adventure into the heart of God - and day by day, we can learn more about who He is and what that means to us!

- Andy Catts

Day 9, December 29, 2013
Readings: Psalm 8, Genesis 8:20-22, Genesis 9:1-19, 1 Chronicles 9, Luke 5:1-39, 6:1-16

Jesus broke the rules. For someone whose "religion" has been characterized as a bunch of rules that make life no fun, Jesus sure didn't follow the rules of his day. In fact, he regularly flouted them in front of the very people who followed them the most...religiously.

But Jesus didn't break the rules for the sake of breaking them. He also didn't break them to serve himself. Jesus broke the rules to illustrate a point - and always for the sake of others. And instead of pacifying those who hated him for breaking the rules, it made them even more angry. They were so caught up in the power of the rules that they couldn't see the heart behind them. There's nothing wrong with rules. Rules help keep our lives ordered and safe. We need them, because, well, we make a lot of bad decisions. And rules help us stay in line.

But sometimes rules need to be broken. Jesus confronts the Pharisees with this truth in a very direct way:

On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man with the withered hand, "Come and stand here." And he rose and stood there. And Jesus said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or destroy it?" And after looking around at them all he said to him, "Stretch out your hand." And he did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus. (Luke 6:6-11)

This is the stuff of legend. A man, whose hand is withered and useless, is healed in seconds, at the word of Jesus. But the Pharisees are furious instead of amazed. They look right past the miracle and immediately return to the letter of the law. No work on the Sabbath. Now, it doesn't look like Jesus had to do much work to heal this guy. "Stretch out your hand." That's it. Done. Healed. That's amazing. But the Pharisees are so caught up in their religion, they can't see the reason behind the rules.

The Sabbath was made for rest. For reflection. A time to stop being busy, to stop working at the tasks of life. Don't busy yourself with the harvesting, and the cleaning, and the everyday, mundane tasks. Take time to be with others, and to focus on who God is and what His heart is. His heart is certainly for the sick. His heart is certainly for those who need a savior. If anything, the Sabbath is a day for us to stop all the earthly work and focus on the heavenly.

What Jesus doesn't tell the Pharisees is that this "work" he's doing is just as much for their edification as for the healing of the man's hand. The religious rule followers also need his saving grace. They need to be free from the oppression that rules have made upon their lives. Earlier he says to them "The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath." (Luke 6:5) God knows our hearts. He knows what we, and the world, need. He cares for our physical and our spiritual needs. All we need to do is follow Him. Is Jesus the Lord of your religion? Of your rules? Is your heart for the lost becoming more like His?

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