Since I will be speaking on several of the other parts of this chapter in the current sermon series, "Things I wish Jesus Never Said," I decided to focus on the ongoing conflict between Jesus and the religious authorities.
Scripture: The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, "Get up and stand in front of everyone." So he got up and stood there.
Then Jesus said to them, "I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?"
He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He did so, and his hand was completely restored. But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus. Luke 6.7-11
Observations: Does anyone think Jesus' use of sarcasm seems out of character? It's one thing for him to reach out to the "tax collectors and sinners" with such mercy and grace, but does he really need to be so confounding to the "spiritual" folks? Obviously, he does. Jesus not only came to teach us what God is like, he also came to show us what God is NOT like. By knocking down the false props of bad religion Jesus is showing his followers how NOT to believe and behave.
I can't help but mention v. 31. It's probably the first verse I ever learned in Sunday School and it still speaks volumes to me today. This will go a long way to keep us from falling into the ways of bad religion: "Do to others as you would have them do to you."
Apply: Before we become too critical of the Pharisees, let's remember that they were the God fearing, church-going respectable crowd. What began as a desire to humbly please God subtly turned into prideful arrogance. Jesus said elsewhere that the attitude of the Pharisees spreads like yeast. We all are prone to spreading that kind of arrogance around. One writer has said that we should share Jesus as if we are merely one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.
Prayer: Forgive me, Lord, for turning your forgiveness and mercy in my life into a cause for pride and arrogance. May I never forget that any change for the better in me is because of your wonderful grace.