Tuesday, July 9, 2019
Everything Jesus did was motivated by His desire for people to hear the good news of salvation. Early in His ministry He addressed the issue of a religious society that was attempting to earn the favor of God. People needed to hear the good news of the grace of God that provides salvation and freedom from the law.
Jesus is still in the first few months of His public ministry and He is already making waves of tsunami proportions. The Pharisees were big on obedience to the law, and Jesus wanted to confront the condition of their hearts. While the Pharisees measured their spiritual value by their methods, Jesus measured it by their motives.
When we dig into a person’s heart and get beyond the outward appearance of righteousness we have touched a very sensitive nerve in most people. We are all experts at creating a visible force field of holiness based on good works. We hope it will protect us from the scrutiny of true heart searching that may reveal impure or selfish motives. That was the case with the Pharisees, and Jesus wanted to get that out in the open.
Luke 6:1-9 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain fields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”
The Pharisees were so entrenched in their legalistic ways that they looked for ways to accuse Jesus of doing wrong. It says that they watched Him closely (the Greek word here means to inspect closely for the purpose of finding fault). It is so sad to see people who are energized by the fuel of faultfinding. But Jesus would not let them get away with it. He confronted them directly and healed the man with the shriveled hand right in front of them – and on the Sabbath day besides.
There’s a lesson from this story about sharing the good news. The good news is not a new set of laws. The good news is not obedience to the old set of laws. The good news does not give us permission to judge everyone else by their conformity or non-conformity to the law. The good news does not make us better than anyone else because we understand and obey the law.
No, the good news is that there is freedom from the law, and what the world needs to see is people who live that way. Our witness to the saving grace of God will only be so effective as our ability to live by grace and model it to the unsaved.
Jesus modeled grace from the beginning of His ministry. He would not give in to the temptation to be acceptable to the legalists of His day. Instead, He modeled grace and acceptance, not based on obedience to the law but based on faith in the Giver of the law. When we share the good news, we must not simply offer a person a transfer of bondage from one law to another, but rather we must offer them freedom from the bondage of all law so that by grace they freely submit to the law of Christ. That is God’s love. We are not in bondage to Christ, but we are compelled by His love to serve Him.
Let the world see Christianity for what it really is – loving acceptance of all people based on the grace of God. They do not need to hear about their evil and their unworthiness compared to our righteousness. We have only the righteousness of Christ, and they can have it also. Anyone can! Let your life of grace show them the way.