The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it?”
While teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath, Jesus healed a woman who had been infirm for 18 years. The ruler of the synagogue did not react with joy and thanksgiving but instead was full of indignation, because Jesus had healed on the sabbath. This ruler reflected the state of the religious leaders of the day in that their relationship with God was ritual rather than relational. They followed the law, without comprehending or seeking the intent behind the law. Not only that, but they had added their own laws on top of what God had spoken, further distancing themselves and the people from God. Jesus rebuked the ruler for having a distant heart and for having lost all reason. Jesus, being the Creator of the Sabbath, knew that the Sabbath was created for us as a day of rest from our labors and as a day to worship God, and He points out that if watering livestock on a Sabbath does not violate the spirit of the Sabbath, then neither would healing someone from their infirmity.
The ruler’s heart had strayed from God. Had he been walking with the Lord, he would have known the heart of God and applied it correctly to the situation. Our Christian walk is no different. We can succumb to tradition and ritual rather than an active relationship with the Lord. We have the Spirit to guide us and scripture to guide us explicitly and scripture that reveals God’s character to us helping us to make decisions where scripture is silent. Lord, may we stay close to you and may our walks be renewed daily (2 Corinthians 4:16).
Pastor Jeff Mericle