Yesterday’s devotion leads us into today’s devotion. Recall how the Pharisees sought to accuse Jesus’ disciples of wrongly picking grain to eat on a Sunday? And how He set them straight because He is Lord of the Sabbath? On that same Sabbath, the Pharisees, again, try to discredit Him, but this time in the temple. Anyone else feel like they are breaking a law themselves by accusing Jesus on any day?
Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 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?” Matthew 12:9-10
The Pharisees seriously think they can trap Jesus with a question. There was a man with a withered hand in the temple, so the Pharisees asked Jesus if it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath. Their intent is to accuse Him of breaking the law if He does so. You think Jesus knew what they were planning in their hearts? Of course! Once again, He set them straight by using an example they could relate to. He answers them with a question first.
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? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:10-11 NIV
I find it interesting that the Pharisees’ response is not recorded. They really couldn’t answer because if they did they may look foolish. For example, if they were to answer truthfully and say, “Yes, I would save one of my sheep on a Sunday.” then they would prove Jesus’ point. Men are more valuable than sheep, so if you would save a sheep on Sunday, you certainly can save a person. On the other hand, if they told Him, “No, I wouldn’t save my sheep.”, He would know they are lying. They were literally caught between a rock(Jesus) and a hard place!
So, what did Jesus do next? He healed the man and made the withered hand look whole, like his other hand. Yay, Jesus! Do you think this made the Pharisees gave up their crusade against Him? No. They may have gotten even more determined to accuse Him of wrong. They left, but were now plotting to kill Jesus! Again…do you think Jesus knew their secret plans? Absolutely. Did it keep Him from continuing His Father’s work? No, He stuck to His Father’s plan:)
But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. Matthew 12:15 NIV
What we can learn from this?
1. Jesus knows our thoughts and words before we speak. He knows those we speak but also those in our hearts. He knew what the Pharisees were up to and He could have been angry or irritated, but He showed His and God’s character by simply answering with wisdom and patience and going on His way, away from the place they were at.
2. It is not wrong to question Jesus. Jesus wants us to come to Him, knowing He has all the right answers. Coming to Him knowing He is the Messiah, God and Holy Spirit in One is the opposite of what the Pharisees did. They came to Him to find something wrong, whereas we come to Jesus to find what is right! They did not want to recognize Him for who He was, so they constantly tried to find something to prove He wasn’t who He said He was. An impossible task!
3. We will be challenged in our obedience to God. Jesus was challenged but stayed the course! Resistance to do God’s will may come from within our own heart or from others. Pride or selfishness will challenge or determine our choices in our Christian walk. So what do we do? Turn to the Bible, prayer and God every time. As in Bible times, some Christians in the world today are persecuted for their beliefs. Officials try to accuse them of fault, which reminds me of the Pharisees’ goal. Here in our country, some groups of people are quick to judge Christians. That’s why what they see from us is so important. We can answer the challenge of adversity or controversy by doing our best not to respond, or when appropriate to respond, doing so with the Lord’s wisdom and patience. We must represent Who we follow. Humility and a desire to please our Father and become more like Christ, is more like what the world needs to see from us.
One for the Journal – For what reasons do you question Jesus? To gain strength , for example? I do! List some things you have asked Jesus for and how He answered. Circle all of His answers. Sometimes He acts in a way we don’t expect, but He always answers. Write Him a thank-You note and keep it in the journal or on a bulletin board.
We are reading how You handled evil intent from the hearts of the Pharisees. Lord, help us be more like You. As tempers flare and the world is arguing, help us to be peacemakers with our words, our restraint and love actions, showing the world there is a better way. Urge our hearts to love deeply with mercy as You do. If we have obstacles in our way to being what You want us to be, show us. Then, give us opportunities each day to honor You. We ask all of these things in Your precious name, knowing that You are able to do more than we can ask or think. We thank You for Your abundant mercy and grace towards us. We love You so very much! Amen
Love and prayers to you all,
Just me. Just His.