Matthew 12:9-14 – So Which Are You More Attracted to? Love or Judgment?

Posted: December 16, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 12:9-14
Jesus Heals a Man’s Hand on the Sabbath

To be clear, there is nothing in the Old Testament Law about not performing acts of healing on the Sabbath. There’s just not. The reason that God established the Sabbath and we were not to carry on as usual on the Sabbath was so that we would set aside a day to focus on the worship of God. The Jewish religious leaders had made rules for the Sabbath so that they would never come close to breaking the rules about not working on the Sabbath. They had become so concerned about what was defined as work that they forgot the reason for the Sabbath. Jesus reminds them of the spirit of the Law, in this passage (Matthew 12:9-14), when we read,
9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.
This passage seems to carry on from the previous one. Jesus was in the fields in the previous passage and the Pharisees were giving Jesus a hard time about His disciples eating wheat because picking wheat constituted work in their eyes. Here, Jesus shows compassion to a disabled man on the Sabbath which constituted work in their eyes. After these two instances, they were ready to kill Jesus cause He had thumbed His nose at all their non-biblical rules and traditions that had developed to keep them from violating the letter of God’s law. Jesus desired mercy rather than mere religious observance when He repeated Hosea 6:6 (I desire mercy, not sacrifices). What are we to learn today that we can use from this passage? I think there is plenty. We, as Christians in general, come off as judgmental to the world around us. Why is that? Have we forgotten Luke 10:27 which states that we are first to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and then flowing from that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. We talk a big game about loving others but do we really? There are several hot button issues out there that make people question whether we really do love or not.

The question of homosexuality and gay marriage is one where we can become like the Pharisees. We are so interested in standing on the prohibitions in the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments about homosexuality that we forget mercy. Sure, such behavior is clearly against God’s Word, but do we try to get to know homosexuals and develop relationships with them and tell them of a God will judge unrepentant sin but who offers redemption through Jesus Christ for those who are repentant. However, most often, we do not get to know them. We would rather stand at a distance and condemn. We would rather stand at a distance and say that you are going to hell for your lifestyle rather spend the effort to develop relationships with them, get to know them, let them see an honest, flawed individual who loves Jesus Christ. We would rather point out their flaws than love them. Sure, there are those that will simply reject us because they are so blinded by the rightness of homosexuality that they will never understand God’s prohibitions against homosexuality being for our own good and the good of society. However, we reach the ones that we can reach through love, understanding and guidance toward the truth of God’s Word. God desires mercy not mindless observance of the Law. God desires that we love our neighbors. Luke 10:27 does not give us qualifiers. We are not just to love those who live according to God’s Word. He desires that we love all people even those who protest against God’s Word with their lifestyles. Certainly, we are not to compromise our beliefs just to satisfy the requirement to love all people, but we should not withhold Christian love and charity from others simply because we do not approve of their lifestyle. We can love others and stand on God’s Word. We can love the gay couple that lives next door but yet have them understand that we believe in marriage being the exclusive realm of a man in love with a woman. We do not burn their house down because they violate God’s Law. We lovingly show them through relationship that their lifestyle is against God’s Word. God’s Word is not a protest banner against the things it prohibits as unwholesome. God’s Word is the eternal truth that is a mirror for each of us to compare our lifestyles to that which an eternal God has lovingly put down in words as to what is best for us not just simply a list of things you can’t do out of some capricious whim of a remote god. God wants what is best for us and He gives us His Word to illustrate it. He did not intend His Word to be a battering ram of hate. It is to point out to us how we fall short of the glory of God, how we are condemned by that fact, and how we have a way out through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Observing the letter of the law as our sole goal removes us from showing the same mercy that God shows us through Jesus Christ. The Law is to point us all to the need we have for Jesus Christ as Redeemer and Savior not for us to use ourselves to batter people over the head with their violation of it. We are Pharisees when we do this.

When we use God’s Word as a battering ram against those whose lifestyle is in opposition to it, we are forgetting that we were once sinners ourselves. When we use the letter of the Law to condemn others and to judge others, we are taking the focus away from ourselves. Were we not once living lives that oppose God’s Word? Were we not drunkards? Were we not thieves? Were we not adulterers? Were we not greedy? Were we not users of people to get what we want? Were we not liars, cheats, whores, jealous, hoarding, unfeeling, self-centered sinners? Before we met Jesus Christ and fell to our knees at our own condemnation in the eyes of the Lord! Are we not still continuing to battle sin everyday where sometimes we win and sometimes we lose? Are we not men who struggle with lust? Are we not women who struggle with jealousy? Are we not men who still struggle with greed? Are we not women who struggle with self-worth that leads to poor decisions? Are we not men and women who are learning slowly with daily mistakes how to be more like Christ? Love God and love others. Love mercy and not religious observance. These are the things that we are called to do. We were once sinners who under the influence of a mighty person of Christ were shown the way to the cross. We all have that one or two people in our lives that did not judge us but simply loved us to the cross. They could have written us off and we would have continued in our lifestyles of sin because God’s Word said what we were doing is wrong. They knew that and loved us anyway. They loved us to the cross.

That is what Jesus is saying here. When we become overly religious, we forget that God loves us though we are sinners. We forget that we were once in the crosshairs of condemnation ourselves until someone led us to the cross. We forget that we still struggle with sin daily. We were once condemned ourselves before we met Christ. What if someone just had wrote you off just because you were once an adulterer? What if someone had written you off just because you were once sexually promsiscuous? What if someone had just written you off because you living that party lifestyle? What if someone had written you off because you were once a thief? And a list of many of the other things God detests in us. We must love sinners to the cross not reject them because they are sinners. We must use God’s Word to lovingly, in relationship with them, show them that God abhors sin but provides us with a way to redemption in Jesus Christ. We do not write people off just because their currently turn their nose up at God. Get to know them. Love them. Show them mercy. Attract them to the cross through love not hate! If you were on your way to church and your unsaved neighbor calls you and tells you he needs to talk to you because his wife just left him, would you tell him, sorry, can’t do it, I’ve got to get to church on time? Jesus desires that we show the world His love and lead them to the cross not simply be observers and commentators on the state of the world. He wants us to love our neighbors to the cross daily. He wants us to show the world love that makes them want this Jesus thing that we have. Amen and amen.

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