The Gospel of Matthew: a commentary & meditation 
 "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"

Scripture:  Matthew 12:9-14

9 And he went on from there, and entered their synagogue. 10 And behold, there was a man with a withered hand. And they asked him, "Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath?" so that they might accuse him. 11 He said to them, "What man of you, if he has one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath." 13 Then he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, whole like the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and took counsel against him, how to destroy him.
Meditation: What is God's intention for the commandment, keep holy the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8; Deut. 5:12)? The scribes and Pharisees wanted to catch Jesus in the act of breaking the Sabbath ritual so they might accuse him of breaking God's law.  They were filled with fury and contempt for Jesus because they put their own thoughts of right and wrong above God.  They were ensnared in their own legalism because they did not understand or see the purpose of God.  Jesus shows their fallacy by pointing to God's intention for the Sabbath: to do good and to save life rather than to do evil or to destroy life.  Christians celebrate Sunday as the Lord's Day, to commemorate God's work of redemption in Jesus Christ and the new work of creation he accomplished through Christ's death and resurrection. Taking "our sabbath rest" is a way of expressing honor to God for all that he has done for us.  Such "rest" however does not exempt us from our love for our neighbor.  If we truly love the Lord above all else, then the love of God will overflow to love of neighbor as well. Do you honor the Lord in the way you celebrate Sunday, the Lord's Day and in the way you treat you neighbor?

"Lord, in your victory over sin and death on the cross and in your resurrection you give us the assurance of sharing in the eternal rest of heaven. Transform my heart with your love that I may freely serve my neighbor for his good and find joy and refreshment in the celebration of Sunday as the Lord's Day."


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(c) 2002 Don Schwager