Lord, help me to understand Your heart and serve You in a way that is true to who You truly are.
Read: Matthew 12:1-14
 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them.  When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”  He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?  He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread-which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent?  I tell you that something greater than the temple is here.  If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.  For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”  Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue,  and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”  He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?  How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”  Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other.  But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.
Reflect: Why were the religious people upset?
Imagine a group of young men striding through the fields. They have been walking for days and are hungry, but they don’t want to stop for food, and risk being separated from their charismatic young leader. So they pick a few ears of corn and crunch the raw grain as they walk. It is countercultural, because today is the Sabbath and their actions count as harvesting and therefore as work. Then they go into a synagogue, and their leader immediately spots a man with a shriveled hand, and heals it–and that’s more work on a Sabbath day!
Jesus is deliberately challenging the Pharisees and all their customs and traditions. Their religious observances sprang from God’s original command to keep the Sabbath day holy–but they were putting the letter of the law above the need for mercy and love (7,12). Notice their reactions to Jesus; there is a major power struggle going on (2,14)!
The wisdom of Jesus challenges our traditions and brings us freedom. But sometimes it’s easier to follow our comfortable traditional religious practices. What do you think some of yours, and of your church, might be?
Ask the Lord to show you any comfortable, traditional practices you need to let go of. Let them go.
Father, I want no part of following rules that blind me to Your work in the world. Teach me to know Your heart.