Step 23: Be a Shield, not a Sword.

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daily text logoMarch 13, 2015

Luke 14:1-6

One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. There in front of him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way.

Then he asked them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?” And they had nothing to say.

LISTEN TO HIM

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One of the enduring lessons I learned from my legal education has to do with the nature of law and its purpose in life.

I remember the way one of my law professors put it. The law intends to serve as a shield to protect people, but lawyers will readily use the law as a sword to pierce them.

We see it at work in today’s text. By now, the Sabbath has become a major flash point in the battle being waged by the Pharisees against Jesus. It’s gotten to the point that they invite him into their homes on the Sabbath in order to further prosecute him. Note the text tells us Jesus was being “carefully watched.”

These Pharisees and legal experts wielded the Law as a sword. They were out to pierce Jesus, to cut him to pieces. (Their strategy will ultimately succeed). Jesus constantly lifts our eyes to the higher aims of the Law. He never sets the law aside, rather he fulfills it by living into its greater purpose– that of protecting and preserving the humanity of people.

In today’s text the classic confrontation is on again. A man suffering with an awful disease stands before Jesus. How he got there we have no idea, but we can be sure he was not invited. Jesus sees before him a broken image bearer of the most high God, a priceless son of Adam.

Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way.

The Law, Jesus says, is a shield of protection, a place of refuge; indeed it is intended to reestablish the norms of the very Garden of Eden. Unless we understand it in this way, we are doomed to a never ending game of “gotcha.” Jesus presses it further:

Then he asked them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?” And they had nothing to say.

Jesus seems to be systematically going to all the people who have been devastated by the Pharisees’ sword-like application of the Law. There’s major learning to be had here. I will put it bluntly.

To the extent we don’t see and love the broken and hurting and lost among us, we don’t see and love God. To that extent our religion is little more than a policy manual. To the extent our hearts are hardened toward the poor they are hardened toward God. Didn’t one of the Proverbs say something like this? “Those who mock the poor insult their maker.” Proverbs 17:5. In the final analysis, he will say, “As you have done it unto the least of these you have done it unto me.”

So how about you? Are you a “shield” person or a “sword” person? This has nothing to do with whether you are a “rule follower” or not. It’s whether or not you are a follower of the Ruler. It’s yet another reason I keep saying,

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

#LISTENtoHIM

J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at jd.walt@seedbed.com. Get the Daily Text delivered to your inbox fresh every morning. Subscribe HERE.

All Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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