Rubbing the Grain (of the Pharisees)

Wheat near Mount Nemrut, Eastern TurkeyContinuing on in my sporadic look at Luke, I reflected on Luke 6:1-11 today. Jesus rubs the Pharisees the wrong way (doesn’t He always?), by “working” on the Sabbath – picking and eating grain with His disciples, and healing a man with a withered hand.

In the account of the man with the withered hand, the text says that Jesus knew what the pharisees were thinking, and He healed the man anyway, something He described as ‘lawfully doing good.’ Sometimes we may need to go against the grain of our church’s traditions or practices, even when people in our tribe may disagree, in order to do good. I think of my friend who went to an affluent church where people dressed up every Sunday. He brought someone with him who could not afford nice clothes, and despite the frowning looks he got he also dressed down when he brought him. That’s a trivial example, but an example nonetheless, and showed love and gave dignity to his friend.1280px-CodexEgberti-Fol023v-HealingOfTheManWithTheWitheredHand

Luke also mentions that the Pharisees were watching Jesus, to see if He would heal on the Sabbath. They knew He could heal, but that didn’t seem to phase them. In fact, one of Pharisees who visits Jesus at night even admits that the they know He is from God (John 3:2). Yet that doesn’t seem to matter; they hold him to their traditions’ standards, and judge Him based on them.

One of the challenges from this passage then, is to look at how we judge our brothers and sisters from different denominations or theological traditions (cessationist vs. continuationist anyone? or how about Free Will vs. Predestination? Dare I even say Protestant vs. Catholic?), or those who worship differently than we do, or practice differently than we do, and to knock it off. Because frankly, our preferences for a certain interpretation or style of worship or dress or… anything, are just those – our preferences. And we may be condemning the work of God when we condemn our brothers and sisters, whom God has called and reconciled to Himself.

In the end, Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (Luke 6:5). He is Lord over both our traditions and preferences, and yes, even over the commands He has laid out in Scripture. Now, I don’t believe He will ever contradict Scripture, but we must be very careful that we don’t turn our interpretations or traditions or preferences into the mark of orthodoxy – something I fear we do far too often.

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