Rules or compassion

How often have you been caught out by some petty regulation or rule ? In an emergency, you park illegally for 5 minutes outside the drug store, then an officious officer gives you a ticket.

Now rules and regulations exist for a reason. They have a point. It would not be right to  flout them just because we don’t like them. Parking regulations have a point. That point is public safety. And my example above of going into the drug store is a question of weighing the evils involved. Better to run the risk of causing a risk to public road safety by parking and get the medication; or take more time to find parking and delay the medication.

Ordinarily we should take more time to park, but sometimes the need to flout that rule may be so pressing as to justify such an illegal action.

The point is, what is the point of the rule; and what exactly are the risks involved where we are faced with such a dilemma ? We make a judgement call.

But Jesus dealt with something far more important when he was challenged about flouting the rules.

In chapter 12 of Matthew’s Gospel we find a head on clash between the rules obsessed Pharisees who prided themselves on keeping the rules, and a Jesus Christ moved by compassion for those in need.

Jesus healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath day, and they got so mad they went off and conspired to get Jesus killed !

These guys were total rules freaks. God made an explicit LAW !

No ifs or buts –  you must obey !

But Why had God made such a rule ?

Answer: So people could take a rest from daily work;  step back from the preoccupations of making a living;  and spend some time focused on the true purpose and source of life which could sustain them through another week:


That was the point about the Sabbath rule. God wasn’t saying don’t do anything at all ! God wasn’t saying,  “Don’t do any good because doing something will break my golden rule”.

But these gentleman were real legalists. The law is the law is the law;  and if you break it, you must be punished; all the rest is irrelevant.

Even doing good…

But the whole point of the Sabbath rest was so you did not become so work absorbed that you forgot God and doing what is right !

Jesus reminds the Pharisees again and again from the Old Testament the proper understanding and the right perspective to take. He quotes to them the wider and more significant meaning of the law, yet they still don’t get it.

They’re mad at him because they feel threatened by him. He’s right in some unfathomable way, and they are wrong.

Jesus just goes right ahead and does the healing. Jesus does the good. Jesus understands the meaning of the law. They clearly refuse to see it; they refuse to have any compassion at all for the suffering of the person being healed.

They are hanging on to the rule, because they would be completely lost without it. Instead of liberating them to do good, their understanding and abuse of the law has corrupted them into becoming self centred bigots who pride themselves on obeying laws. They have lost all perspective and proportion.

As pastors and spiritual leaders they had become useless to the people. They were redundant, and Jesus came and exposed their self centred hypocrisy.

Jesus came to restore reality and perspective and proportion for the Jewish people. That meant facing down the old hypocrisy, and showing them a new way designed to really meet the needs of the people.

In Matthew 12, we see Jesus healing people with serious conditions.  He gave them restoration and wholeness.  Doing that, he pointed them to God their creator more effectively and truly than any set of rules could ever do.

And in these days of easy, slack teaching about what being a Christian means, the closing words of this chapter 12, tell us Jesus own definition of his family:

Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother and sister and mother

Christian Preacher

By Christianity

The personal icon photograph shows God's creation, the world. It reminds us that God is the Creator of all - the almighty, the all knowing and all present - the one who is most important of all. The one to whom we owe all, and the one to whom we will answer for all. The site's header image of the Bible [King James Authorised Version], a map, a light and a compass represent to us that God's word in the Bible is our spiritual map, illumination and guide through this life. Those who obey his teaching will know his presence and power - Gospel of John, chapter 14, verse 23

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