It happened that when He went into the house of one of the leaders of the Pharisees on the Sabbath to eat bread, they were watching Him closely. And there in front of Him was a man suffering from dropsy. And Jesus answered and spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?" But they kept silent. And He took hold of him and healed him, and sent him away. And He said to them, "Which one of you will have a son or an ox fall into a well, and will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?" And they could make no reply to this. (Luke 14:1-6)How easy is it for us, like the Pharisees, to hide behind our own personal "Sabbath" scriptures. It reminds me of something that Jesus told the religious folks of His day:
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matthew 9:10-13)I love how Jesus always goes back to mercy. I wonder why the Pharisees were seemingly more concerned about the rules than people? Maybe folks like them (and too often like us) are just uncomfortable dealing with messy people ... people in pain ... people who have made bad decisions ... people with addictions .. people who have broke the law. It seems that sometimes we are like the Pharisees ... hiding behind the scriptures and seemingly more concerned with "the rules" than with hurting people.
I think that when we stand on the scriptures we follow Jesus' call to ministry:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (Luke 4:18-19)It is good news when we stand on the scripture. The poor are helped ... prisoners are freed ... the sick are healed ... and justice is released. I guess that is the problem with hiding behind the scriptures - mercy and compassion are not released because there is no anointing.