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We conclude Jesus Heals On The Sabbath with His challenge for us to decide between Him and religion. 

Jesus Heals On The Sabbath-2

Continued from Jesus Heals On The Sabbath

So here's Jesus and His bud's bippin' along in the wheat fields and one of the guys gets this cool idea. "Let's eat some of the wheat." Now, that wasn't called poaching, it was called gleaning, and it was perfectly legal in their society. Except, someone hadn't been looking at their watch, oops 6:00 PM on Friday…it's now the day of rest. The religious leaders who just happened to be watching decided to throw a fit. Actually, the Bible says they were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus. Ever had that happen to you? Someone made their mind up about you and nothing you could do could change it? Every time you tried, you just got deeper in the hole? Me, too. Jesus did nothing to appease them, something you and I could learn. Instead, He told them they were wrong about the Law. He told them their much revered King David broke the Law and was still favored by God. You see, God made the Law so people would honor Him and depend on Him. The first commandment was that we should have no other gods but Him. Sadly, for the Pharisees, the Law had become their God.

That's the whole focus of religion. What we sacrifice and give up. Can't do this. Must do that. The more you give up, the closer to God you get. Isn't that the story you get from religious people today? Did you know 100 years ago, telephone was considered sinful? Then there were movies, music, especially rock and roll, dancing, bowling, pool, radio, TV and now, it's the Internet. How dare I pretend to put a church on the devil's world wide web. That's religion for you; anything fun and useful and new has got to be wrong. Can you see why religion is an enemy to God, yet? How 'bout this; all religion is based on the concept that, if we give up enough of what we enjoy, if we do enough of what we don't enjoy, we can earn our right to be with God. That does 2 things that oppose God: 1. It portrays Him as someone who doesn't want us to enjoy anything, but wants us to live a life of slavery to arbitrary rules. 2. It claims we can lift ourselves by our own effort to God's presence (suggesting we're equal to God if we just try harder.) The first makes it impossible to ever really love God. The second makes it impossible for us to realize our dependence upon Him. That's why religion opposes God, it puts us in a position to never love Him and never reach Him, because we can never sacrifice enough to meet the arbitrary rules. That's where the religious leaders were then, too.

The very rules they claimed to be a way to reach God were what prevented them from recognizing Him while He walked in their midst. Some say Romeo and Juliet was the greatest tragedy ever written. I think it's the story of Israel. For 1,500 years, this family was God's "chosen". They would be blessed and through them all families in the world would be blessed. Their entire culture was driven by this "special place" they held in God's eye. Hebrews says it was the faith of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses that kept this promise from God in place, but by the time of Jesus, the faith had turned from God to faith in the rules. Oh, they still thought they were special, but they thought their special ness was something they had earned. "Look at how holy I am." They thought they were so holy they could judge everyone else. Just like religious people today.

Jesus said, "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." In our story, Jesus reminds them of when God had told them He wanted mercy, not sacrifice. Jesus was all about mercy. He taught people to treat others the way they, themselves, want to be treated. He said to forgive others if you want God to forgive you. He said the measure we use to judge others will be the measure God uses to judge us one day. It was all about mercy. It still is. Jesus came to set us free, not to enslave us to bunch of religious BS. The Bible says to be in Him is to have the fullness of God alive in us, to have the mind of Christ, the power of the holy Spirit, to be seated in heaven with Jesus, at God's right hand. Does that sound like a sacrifice? There is no greater place. God made the sacrifice, so we could have this great gift for all eternity with Him. That's love! When we're living in the love of God and allowing His love to flow through us to others, rules are meaningless. That's what Jesus was teaching the Pharisees that day, but they couldn't hear Him because He had broken a rule. Let's dedicate our lives to living in His love and let the rule makers live in their judgment. That way, we'll all be a lot happier.

Dear Lord, If there's any one reading this that's been stepped on by religious people, we ask you to heal them, now, and show them your love and mercy. If someone has been the religious person trying to earn their way to you, free them today, so they can freely receive and freely give your love. Teach us to be lovers of you and lovers of mercy. Help us to never get so puffed up with ourselves that we begin to think we deserve your great gift and can judge others. Instead, help us to spread your love everywhere we go. Thank you, Lord.

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