Matthew 12:9-14 (continued)
“When He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. And there was a man whose hand had withered. They asked Him, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’ that they might accuse Him. He said to them, ‘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?
Then how much better is a man than a sheep? Therefore, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.’ Then He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored whole like the other. Then the Pharisees went out and took counsel against Him, how they might kill Him.’
Last time we talked about how the laws of mankind often take precedence over the laws of God. Jesus dealt with this His entire ministry and more often than not, the laws of Man are more rigid than the laws of God and certainly not tempered with His mercy. Man’s laws can be enforced without grace, mercy or compassion. God’s laws though rigid and eternal are always tempered with His grace. No greater example of this exists than the woman caught in adultery.
We see this account in John 8: 1-11:
“But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning He returned to the temple. All the people came to Him, and He sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery. When they had put her in the middle, they said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. Now Moses in the law commanded us to stone such, but what do You say?’
They said this, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear them. So when they continued asking Him, He stood up and said to them, ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.’
Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Being convicted by their conscience, those who heard it went out one by one, beginning with the eldest even to the last. Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had stood up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are your accusers? Did no one condemn you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.’”
Jesus was the only one who had no sin in His life so He was the only one qualified to cast a stone. Yet even He refused to, He chose grace over judgment that day and every day after that. Maybe this is what we are missing in the Lord’s churches today, we are missing grace. No, I am not saying that we should not talk about our sins and confess our sins, nor am I saying that we should not diligently work at turning from our sins.
The Lord’s churches are comprised of sinners saved by grace and grace only. We are incapable of saving ourselves. We are incapable of riding ourselves of sin and we are incapable of perfection. So any true Christian must mature to the point to understand that we live and exist each and every day by His matchless grace.
Like this woman in John 8 we have been caught in the very act of whatever sins we are involved in and we like the this woman have no excuse. We are condemned and deserve to die; Jesus has the right to kill us in a painful and horrible way. But He offers His grace and His mercies are new each day.
“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”
I think the older I get the more I have come to appreciate that grace of God. I am a good for nothing rotten sinner. I wake each day and realize that I am here simply by God’s grace. I do not deserve to open my eyes or to have a family, or to have money or food or to be loved by my awesome wife or to have lovely children or to have a job. I don’t deserve anything what I do deserve is to be punished in Hell forever, BUT by God’s grace I am here, saved, blessed and given all these wonderful gifts.
I did not earn them they are given by God. All that you have is also given by God, even if you are not a child of God in Jesus all that you have is from God’s abundant wealth and grace. Over the years I think I have been more Pharisee than gracious Christian and I do a great disservice to the grace that has been shown to me by God. Jesus restored this woman, He refused to condemn her and kill her rather He extended His loving hand and helped her up. He looked on her lovingly; this is trait so missing from us.
We look to find fault to justify our own sinfulness and to make ourselves feel superior to the fallen rather than be like the father looking for the Prodigal Son, that father ran to him and embraced him and kissed him and loved him.
“But while he was yet far away, his father saw him and was moved with compassion, and ran and embraced his neck and kissed him. We would be casting stones and pointing fingers to make a broken brother more broken.” (Luke 15:20)
It Is Always Lawful to Do Good, Verses 9-13
This was the very point of this exercise. The leaders of the religious sects had made doing good to your fellow man sinful. They had devised ways to get around honoring your parents and had put such a burden on the people that serving the Lord, the people thought, was practically impossible. God is a good God and as such doing good is never out of style or out of fashion with Him. Religion breeds hatred, it always does. BUT a true and genuine relationship with the Lord Jesus should breed compassion and love; if it does not it is not a true relationship. Look at the transformation in the life of the apostle Paul; he went from hatred to love, even loving his enemy, which is transformation.
Jesus made this statement to us and we would be wise to apply it to any and all of our situations in life that deal with people:
“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35).
We are caught up in a world of judgments. A world where the sin has become accepted as good and good has been demonized. A world where love means that you tolerate sinful behavior and refuse to point out that sin is sin. Well in John 8 the woman had sinned, Jesus did not defend her sin, He defended HER.
She was instructed to go and “sin no more.” This can be taken in one of two ways, either she was told by Jesus to go and not to engage in adultery any more or as a new believer her sins where covered forever and she would no longer be seen as a sinner. No matter the course Jesus admitted that she is or was a sinner.
To stop sinning one would have to be a sinner. What Jesus did not do was to right her off to Hell without offering His grace, love and mercy. But this is exactly what the modern church has done, in an attempt to ‘separate’ us from the world we have started being less compassionate to sinners and we have cocooned ourselves into little protective Shires like the Hobbits away from the fray of the war for souls.
We have made churches exclusive clubs for the sinless rather than dirty ERs for the sinners who need immediate attention from the attending nurses and doctors us! We are afraid of sin and sinners, Jesus was not. He was “afraid” of religious, loveless men who loved ritual more than the person, those who loved the pomp and specter of leadership but hated leading.
Jesus was harsh on these men and He called them out as empty, loveless, unthankful and misled idol worshippers who worshipped their religion and not God. Sadly too many of us have become the same way.
Killed for Doing Good, Verse 14
Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath and this angered the religious leaders to the point that they wanted to kill Him. They could not rejoice that their fellow brother had been healed. They simply hated Jesus for breaking their laws. Not God’s law, since Jesus did not ever sin, HE DID NOT BREAK THE LAW.
What He did was reveal the true hearts of the men He faced. How many missionaries have lost their lives doing the same thing, just trying to help their fellow man only to lose their lives and be killed for doing good?
How many of us would be guilty of doing good if it became categorized as a crime?
When we reach out to gays and homosexual people for the purpose of rescuing them from sin and its grip we are now outlawed from doing good. Could you be arrested? Could I be arrested? When we reach out to help people who are living together and encourage them to be married we could be accused of intolerance, would we be guilty of a crime?
When we give money or food to a homeless person and take the time to help them would we be guilty of encouraging them? All too often we modern “Christians” forget that Jesus was a homeless person who lived off of the gracious gifts of those who loved Him.
In Luke 9:58 and Matthew 8:20 we find these sobering words about the King of Israel:
“ [Jesus told him,] ‘Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.’”
Would we have contributed or scorned Him?
Here is the question to us in the New Testament church, to you and I the supposed representatives of the new kingdom, the new covenant paid for in Jesus’ blood:
If we were arrested for being Jesus-like Christians would there be enough evidence to convict us? Or would we be released for lack of evidence?
This is a “man in the mirror” question. A lot of us think we are “good Christians” but there is no such thing. We are sinners saved by grace, and only Jesus can change us. What deliberate good have you done for your fellow man? How have you stepped out, and made a difference in someone’s life for the simply joy of serving?
Jesus walked into Samaria, a place where He was hated to rescue a woman who was even more hated than He (John 4). He associated with sinners. Can you imagine what that woman must have felt like to be loved by a man for the very first time in her life, a man who actually gave to her instead of taking from her?
Jesus transformed her life and He challenges us to remember that the ones that are cast off by the world and religion are the ones who He uses to actually change the world. That blessed woman ran back the people who hated her and told them about Jesus. That entire village believed because she loved the people who hated her.
True Christianity is about doing good for the sheer joy of it since Jesus did and does good to and for us for the sheer joy of it. Jesus was hated for doing good and you will be as well. But God will love you and me even all the more. Come let us change the Lord’s churches, one loved person at a time. Let us go to Samaria, let us hug some prodigals and let us embrace some sinners. Let us be like Jesus; what a novel idea!
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant” (Philippians 2:5-7a).