Made for Man
When I was teaching English to adults in the UK, we were given new health and safety regulations to follow. If we wanted to go an educational visit we needed to first do a risk assessment and fill in a hefty document. This would take longer than the actual trip.
Remember the students were responsible adults, but to go to the local park or museum, or to cross the road, we needed to fill out the forms. The unintended consequence was that I never organised another educational trip for my classes.
Regulations can be like that.
I assume that when the teachers of the Law started listing what was considered to be work on the Sabbath, they were trying to uphold the principal of rest and to be helpful.
The unintended consequence was that something the Lord God had intended for a blessing became a curse. Fussing over the minutia, they had missed the point. What was a needed break, a day of relaxation and rest, not a way to make your life harder.
The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
Let's be clear: Jesus broke the rules.
The rules of his day - the man-made regulations were broken by Jesus and his disciples. They picked corn on the Sabbath, they didn't always follow the customs for washing hands and Jesus healed people on the Sabbath.
On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all.
When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.
Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”
Luke 13 v 10 - 14 (NIV)
This small-minded synagogue leader would have preferred that a woman in his congregation, who had been sick and oppressed by a spirit for eighteen years, wasn't healed and delivered, because it was done on the Sabbath. To him his interpretation of the Law was more important than releasing a woman from suffering.
We've all met people like him. Workers who say, 'It's more than my job's worth.' You just know that whatever our need, they are not going to find a way to help you, even if that's their job. They have forgotten the point of their work!
I hope you enjoyed some British humour!
Jesus knew what was important. He didn't break the Law of God, but challenged man-made rules. When the teachers of the Law an d the Pharisees asked him why his disciples didn't keep the traditions of the elders, Jesus replied
- Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’
You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.
Mark 7 v 6 - 8 (NIV)
Jesus gave an example of this.
And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’
But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother.
Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.
Mark 7 v 9 - 13 (NIV)
This is a particular sort of hypocrisy that uses religion so as to not follow what God wants, which is for people to look after their own parents.
So, let's take stock of the rules we live by.