In the previous miracle I said Jesus was picking a fight. One of the reasons we can conclude this is what Jesus did on His very next miracle. Once again, He healed someone. And once again, He did it on the Sabbath.
One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away. And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” And they could not reply to these things. – Luke 14:1-6, ESV
Why is Jesus picking a fight? This isn’t grace, kindness, tenderness, peace, and all those other things we usually say about God. So why did Jesus behave this way? Jesus behaved this way because it is in His nature and His character to love us. Too often we characterize love by the stuff we like: when we’re the center of attention, when everything is just perfect, when we get that gooey feeling like a melted chocolate chip, when it’s about tenderness and the like. But sometimes love is about taking a stand, even when it’s not what the other person wants. For instance, if I catch my son lying, as a loving parent, what should I do? Should I say, “It’s okay, I love you, and we’ll just forget about this lie,” or should I instead respond with, “Son, lying is wrong. And when we do things wrong, there are consequences,” and then follow up with the appropriate consequences? If I love my son, I’ll do the latter. Ignoring the issue just makes things worse. Now, at the time he is caught, which one would my son say he preferred? Likely the former, because none of us like getting into trouble.
God’s nature is love. And that means doing what’s best for us, even if we don’t like it at the time. Jesus healed this man because He loved him. He healed this man on the Sabbath because He loved the “lawyers and the Pharisees.” What? Absolutely, because He was trying to confront their man-made rules and expose them as the fallacies that they were. They didn’t provide any holiness. We have no holiness. Our holiness comes strictly from God through the shed blood of Christ. Oswald Chambers said this, and he’s exactly right, “Christian workers fail because they place their desire for their own holiness above their desire to know God.” You want holiness? seek to better know (and not just know about) the God who can provide it. Jesus was showing them that what they had placed their future in fell apart with the simplest of arguments. Before he used animals as his counter. This time he raised the stakes and include “sons,” because he so wanted to get their attention and cause them to think. He was basically saying, “Think about it. Your son is in trouble. It’s the Sabbath. You mean to tell me you won’t lift a finger to help him?” We know the answer to that. Of course they would. And that revealed the folly of what they had placed their trust in.
Sometimes God has to do this in our lives, too. We’ve held on to a mistaken belief or we’ve understood something in the wrong way or we don’t battle something because we don’t think it’s that bad and He has to show us the truth. A lot of times this is painful. But it would be better to know the truth, wouldn’t it? After all, we say we serve a God who is truth. Why would we want to cling to anything else? I know poets and romance writers may sometimes wax poetic about it being better not knowing the truth, but that would be choosing against the very nature of God. Not a wise choice. Also, once we begin lying to ourselves about one thing, we have to keep lying to ourselves about other things to protect the first lie. This never ends well.
Love sometimes means making that hard choice. Jesus will make that hard choice every time for the ones whom He has called. We have to accept that hard choice, especially when it requires a major change in our lives. This could be breaking with a prejudice. It could be fighting an addiction. It might even be reconciling with someone who has hurt you deeply. Whatever it is, when Jesus takes the step to reveal to us our folly, we should have a better reaction than the religious leaders did. We should acknowledge His authority and wisdom and seek to bring our life and our thoughts in line with His. He is truth, and He is love. Together that means that when He confronts us, He is right and we need it. Let us respond, “Thank you, Lord, for loving me so much you’re willing to confront this stubborn fool of a sinner so that I might be more like You.”