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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What Is Your Definition of Sin?

Jesus healed the man's hand on the Sabbath.
Jesus was criticized as a glutton and a drunkard(Matthew 11:19), but the most serious accusation against him in the earlier part of his ministry was as a sinner.  Any breech of the Law was enough to incite those who wanted to accuse him.  Later his claim of equality with the Father became a focal point.  When the Pharisees and Sadducees and those who were called the rulers of the Temple sought some way to stop his rise in popularity, they fixated on his conflicts with their perception of the Law.

In Matthew 12:1 his disciples were hungry when they walked through a field of grain and they began to eat the green kernels.  The Pharisees saw them and protested that this was unlawful to harvest on the Sabbath.  Jesus defended them citing the story of David and his men eating the consecrated bread in the Tabernacle which was unlawful for anyone but the priests.  This was not harvest for profit, and they were taking enough to be considered stealing.  It was what might be considered feeding the poor or hungry.  Jesus saw it, not as an insult to the owner of the field, but just enough to sustain them as they walked.  The Law ordered that you leave the corners of the field for those who would glean.  It was counted as merciful.

He asked them the meaning of these words: I desire mercy not sacrifice.  He saw those who were charging the disciples as the ones who had an opportunity to offer mercy.  When faced with sin do we help or hurt?  In this case they could be merciful to the hungry disciples, but they chose to use a strict interpretation  that said their behavior violated the law.  Jesus said "The Son of Man is Lord even on the Sabbath Day."  The Sabbath was created for man, to give him rest, to have an opportunity to praise God, to be thankful, not that the Sabbath should be a burden.

Then they went to the Synagogue, and the same men asked Jesus if it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath.  There was a man there with a withered hand.  Jesus told a parable about a man who would help a sheep stranded in a ditch even on the Sabbath.  Is a man not worth more than a sheep? When he restored the man's hand, the Pharisees held a council to kill him.  Was it lawful to hold a council to plot a man's death on the Sabbath?