Gleanings – People Matter

John 5:1-18

“Now that day was the Sabbath.”

The story makes me incredulous if not furious. Jesus heals a physically impaired man who has been suffering for 38 years. And what is the response of the religious leaders of his day? Celebrate this great thing? Not a chance. They sought all the more to kill him. That’s right, kill him. He broke the Sabbath. He equated himself with God. He was and is infringing upon their franchise.

Amazing how easily things get out of balance. Jesus reminds us that the Sabbath was created for man, not man for the Sabbath. We are not slaves to it. The Sabbath is meant to refresh us. It was a gift. But in the hands of the religious it becomes proprietary, something to be observed with the religious as arbiters of proper observation. Over things like this the religious leaders could decide who is in and who is out.

For pastors this is a cautionary tale. We should be slow to impose anything outward as a litmus test for faithfulness. Faith is always a matter of the heart and while signs may suggest the condition of the heart, it is largely known to God alone unless a person chooses to reveal it.  And the story also says beware of anything that suggests relationships are secondary to religious observation or even the mission of the church. Deacons are appointed in Acts 6 to make sure widows are not overlooked in the distribution of food and to make sure proclamation continues unhindered. But it is both/and. The needs must be addressed and the mission advanced. The latter can’t be done at the expense of the former. Thankfully, people matter to God.

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