June 04, 2018

Blinded

Devotion for the Week...

Last week I looked at the Pharisees and why Jesus warned His disciples to beware of them. Today I want to take another look at the them and how their spirit is alive and well even today.

There are two stories in the Bible of Jesus healing on the Sabbath. Once, which I mentioned last week, it was a woman who hadn't been able to stand up straight for 18 years (Luke 13:10-17) and the other time it was a man with a deformed hand (Mark 3:1-6). The Pharisees reacted with anger both times.

After He healed the woman: "But the leader in charge of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath day. 'There are six days of the week for working,” he said to the crowd. “Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath'" (Luke 3:14).

And after He healed the man: "At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus" (Mark 3:6).

In fact, the Pharisees were watching precisely to see if He would heal the man with the deformed hand. "Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath" (Mark 3:1,2).

In both of these instances, the thing that strikes me as most interesting is how the Pharisees were completely blinded by the rules. All they could see was the rule against doing work on the Sabbath. They couldn't see the miracles that were taking place before them and they certainly couldn't see the people who were being set free. They weren't interested in the people at all. It was only whether or not the rules were being kept that interested them.

Picture this for a moment...you've gone to church just as usual on a Sunday morning and there's a woman there who has been sick for so long hardly anyone can remember a time when she was well. Someone new comes into the church, sees the sick woman and completely heals her. Picture the moment of astonishment that would follow, and then the pandemonium of celebration that would break out. Then picture your pastor standing up, picking up the mic and saying, "Don't come here looking for healing on a Sunday. This is a day of rest. Get your healing some other day."

Crazy, right?

But what about if someone new visits a church, someone who has been living a life so far away from God you can see it in their clothing or smell it on their breath? Would that person be welcomed in, allowed to sit through the service and maybe hear about the spiritual healing that Jesus offers to all of those who believe in Him? Or would our rules of acceptable behavior keep us from seeing the miracle of that person even being in a church to begin with?

Or what if it's a person who maybe isn't so obviously in need of God, but who just doesn't conform to how we think a person should act when they're in church? How would we treat them?

I once heard a retired pastor say that if a man came into his church wearing a baseball hat and didn't remove it, he would ask that man to leave. "It's a sign of disrespect," he said. I argued that a hat doesn't show the state of a person's heart. We can be respectful or disrespectful regardless of what we have on our heads. He disagreed and said again that it is a sign of disrespect for a man to leave his hat on, and he would ask any man who wouldn't take off his hat to leave the church.

In society in general and in the church, we have rules that govern how we dress, how we talk and how we act. That's good. There's nothing wrong with rules and standards. What's wrong is when we become so fixated on making sure people follow those rules that we forget to look at the people themselves. We can become so blinded by the rules that we miss the miracles.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
The Pharisees missed the miracles of the people healed in their midst because they were so upset about the rules Jesus broke. They missed the miracle of Jesus, the Son of God Himself in their midst, because they were so upset about the rules He broke.

Are we being blinded by the rules? And if we are, what miracles might we be missing?

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