John 5:16 – 17 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.”
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Rules are made to be broken”? Well, it’s true. Sort of. Rules are guidelines. They are generalizations of what should be the case. They provide security, and overall, they lead us to where we want to be. But sometimes, the rules don’t meet the needs of a certain circumstance, and they should be bent or broken.
For example, we should always obey traffic laws. They keep us safe, and prevent us from having accidents. But sometimes, an ambulance needs to rush someone to the hospital. So the ambulance has permission to break the rules, in order to meet the need of that individual at that time.
Jesus knew this. Of course, He was aware of the Sabbath laws. He created them. But first and foremost, God is concerned about people. He saw a man who needed to be healed, and He healed him. God gives us guidelines to live by, guidelines which will lead us into the best, most fulfilled lives possible. But He isn’t out to get us. He loves us, and He will even break His own rules every now and then, in order to rescue us.
This doesn’t mean we can carelessly discard God’s laws. But it is important to remember, friends, that God is more concerned about people than about religious trappings. He created us, and He loves us more than anything. And He wants us to love others with that same kind of love.
It’s funny. The God who created the Ten Commandments is the same God who hates legalism. He called the Pharisees “hypocrites”. We must be careful not to become one of those Pharisees, judging others based on strict religious guidelines, and denying them the very love of God in the process. When people haven’t lived up to God’s standards, we must remember that none of us have lived up to God’s standards. We must reach out to them in love, instead of making them feel like second-class citizens.
Just think. What if Jesus had said to the man at the pool, “Oh, sorry, dude. I’d love to help you, but it’s the Sabbath. I can’t bend the rules for you. And tomorrow, I’ll be gone. It’s a real bummer, but I guess you’ll just have to stay sick.” What a tragedy. But that very tragedy occurs when we turn people away because they don’t dress modestly enough, or their language isn’t wholesome enough, or perhaps they’ve committed some other great sin that doesn’t set right in Christian circles. We need to look past the rules and see the people who need God’s love. Like Jesus, we need to say, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.”
Dear Father, Thank You for healing that man on the Sabbath – breaking Your own rule out of love and compassion for Him. Please help me to be guided by Your love, and not only by a set of rules.