A wife woke up one morning and said, “Honey, I just had a dream that you bought me a new gold necklace. What do you think it means?”
“I don’t know, but Valentine’s Day is coming soon. Tuesday, you’ll know,” He replied.
A few nights later, she again woke up after having a dream, “This time, I dreamed you gave me a pearl necklace. What do you think it means?”
“You’ll know Tuesday,” He replied.
The night before Valentine’s Day, she again woke up telling him about her dream, “This time I dreamed that you brought me a diamond necklace. What do you think it means?”
“Honey, be patient. “You’ll know tonight,” he said.
That evening, the husband came home with a package and gave it to his wife. Delighted, she opened it–to find a book entitled, “The Meaning of Dreams.”
The husband missed the point. He missed it badly. He failed to see what his wife was saying.
The Jews in Jesus’ day misunderstood Jesus. They missed the meaning of His message. The focus of His ministry. And the purpose of His miracles.
In our reading today, in Matthew 12, Jesus went into the Synagogue where there was a man with a withered hand. Ever trying to trap Jesus, the Jews asked Him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?
Always one step ahead of their devious plans and disingenuous questions, here’s how Jesus responded.
“What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” (Matt 12:11-12)
Although work was forbidden on the Sabbath under the Old Law, the Scribes and Pharisees had added many ridiculous religious traditions over the years that had nothing to do with the law. In fact, it appears their oral traditions became more important to them than what it actually said. Yet, in this case the law actually provided for the Sheep in the pit. And the reality is they would rescue the Sheep.
“Isn’t a man more important than a Sheep?”
“Isn’t it right to do good on the Sabbath?”
And if a man is more valuable than a sheep, and it’s right to do good, then to refuse to help a hurting man, would be evil.
Jesus then healed the man with the withered hand. He restored his health, his dignity, and his ability to work with his hands. Jesus didn’t violate the Sabbath law. But he did run afoul of the religious leaders and their traditions. So, they “plotted against him, how they might destroy him.”
What’s more important to you? A person or an animal? People or things? Jesus or your opinions? Traditions or Truth? Following man-made customs or doing good?
Sadly for some folks today the protection of an animal is more important than the baby in the womb. In the United States destroying eagle eggs is a crime and carries with it a hefty fine. But in some states a baby may be aborted right up until the time of birth. Like the Pharisees, some people have their values misplaced.
I see on facebook people arguing about some of the customs in the United States regarding worship services. Issues that the Bible is silent about. Not matters of Truth, but tradition. Other countries and even churches in our country do things differently. Not wrong. But different.
Sometimes a worship service runs a little longer than usual, and you hear Christians complaining. Maybe someone answers the invitation and wants to be baptized. This takes time. Some fidget. Nervously look at the clock. Squirm in their seats. And wonder if they will still beat the Baptists to the buffet? Or be late for the ball game?
Where’s the excitement over a soul being saved? The joy of salvation? The wonder of sins being washed away by the blood of Christ? Isn’t a soul worth more than our time, convenience, and afternoon activities?
The Pharisees missed who Jesus really was. What He was all about. And why He cared about people. Have we missed it?
Jesus came to rescue the lost. To repair lives. And to restore fellowship with God.
Lord, help me care about hurting people. Be ready to do good. Willing to disregard tradition. Help me see the majesty of Jesus
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman