No matter what they tell you, you don’t have to stay within the lines. —Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium
When looking at all the ways Jesus challenged the rule police of His day, my mom likes to say, “Isn’t Jesus a rascal!”
She’s absolutely right. In Luke 6:6, as Jesus taught in a synagogue, there was a man in the audience with a shriveled hand. This disability was a huge disadvantage in an agrarian society. It was unlikely the man could work to provide for his family.
The Pharisees and teachers of the law were also in the audience, waiting for a reason to accuse Jesus. The text says, “They watched him closely” (Luke 6:7). The word here means “to spy out of the corner of their eye.” They were hoping to trap Jesus.
Jesus, the Pharisees, and the teachers of the law all knew Jewish law prohibited healing on the Sabbath unless the ill person was in mortal danger. But a shriveled hand wasn’t mortal danger, right?
No healing. This was the rule and Jesus knew it. However, in Luke 6:8, Jesus said to the man, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” In other words, “Let’s teach a lesson to all who believe it’s against the rules to show compassion on the Sabbath.”
Jesus, the rascal was about to make a point. He could have waited to heal the man the next day. He could have taken the man out back and done it privately. But instead, Jesus chose to challenge the rules of the rule police. Jesus healed the man. Luke tells us, “the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious” (Luke 6:11). The Greek word used to describe their fury means “pathological rage.”
What in the world? Do you think these leaders were off in their understanding of how the world is supposed to work? Jesus had just exposed the root issue of the Pharisees: Rules had imprisoned their compassion.
Rule keepers become rule police, and rule police have a hard time loving rule breakers. Jesus deals with this situation by becoming a rule breaker. It’s how He loves people. What a rascal!
Jesus, I want to be a rascal, too! Perhaps I have been steeped too long in the rules of good behavior and people-pleasing. Rascalize me for compassion’s sake. Make my life an invitation to come up front and experience Your unruly love. Amen.
Learn more from Pete’s teaching on Luke, What Will Jesus Do?