Matthew 12:9-14 (The Message)
When Jesus left the field, he entered their meeting place. There was a man there with a crippled hand. They said to Jesus, “Is it legal to heal on the Sabbath?” They were baiting him.
He replied, “Is there a person here who, finding one of your lambs fallen into a ravine, wouldn’t, even though it was a Sabbath, pull it out? Surely kindness to people is as legal as kindness to animals!” Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” He held it out and it was healed. The Pharisees walked out furious, sputtering about how they were going to ruin Jesus.
In this passage, we clearly recognize the absurdity of the legalistic mindset the Pharisees were operating under with Jesus. One would think that common sense would consider an exception and extend mercy in a situation like this.
An EXCEPTION is anything excluded from or not in conformance with a general rule.
LEGALISM is strict, literal adherence to the law or to a particular code.
Making an exception is basically extending mercy. Legalism offers no exceptions.
This past week, a story went viral about a lifeguard in South Florida who was fired after saving a drowning man about 100 yards from his guard zone. The company the lifeguard worked for fired him for going beyond the boundary of his zone to protect lives.
Laws and rules are designed to assist us in recognizing the difference between right and wrong. Laws are the standard. However, there are extenuating circumstances where the law doesn’t necessarily make sense.
The story of Jesus healing on the Sabbath and the story of the lifeguard saving a life outside his guard zone should have been considered exceptions. Don’t some folks just take things too far? Whereas Jesus should have been hailed as a hero, he was criticized. Whereas, the young man who saved a drowning man should have been applauded and given a promotion by his employer, he lost his job.
I am convinced that the reason many non-believers are not open to Jesus is because the only Jesus they see are the merciless “holier than thou” Christians who take the law too far. The enemy wants nothing more than to make Christ followers appear unreasonable and relentless.
The answer to this challenge is to mimic Jesus Christ. It’s about RELATIONSHIP not RELIGION. Jesus is the PERFECT model of Truth and Mercy. He’s not just the model—HE IS TRUTH and MERCY. If we stay tuned into the Word of God for wisdom and align ourselves in proper relationship with Jesus, He will equalize us with a balance of His Truth and Mercy.
The next time you are quick to judge another’s actions, try considering an “exception.” After all, He made an EXCEPTION with each one of us. He rescued us by His bleeding grace, and He continues to offer mercies new everyday no matter how much we mess up.
WOW, we are so blessed that you made an EXCEPTION for us. Help us to reflect your character when observing the actions of others. We pray for a balance of Truth and Mercy! Thank you for the Law, but thank you more for the One Who fulfilled the Law with GRACE.
In Your Precious Son’s Name,