When visiting relatives, I went to the public library to do some work. I failed to notice a sign that restricted parking and pulled into a parking space provided for those with accessibility needs. The envelope left under my windshield wiper made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: a hundred-dollar fine. The incident caused me considerable distress. The police did not know that I have tried hard to keep all the rules since I was a child. Had they known, I suspect it would not have changed the fine.
Rules are important. They give order to our lives and to our world. People who habitually break laws bring pain to themselves and others. To avoid chaos and live in harmony, we need to agree on rules that guide our lives.
Now comes the “however.” In the story told in Luke 13, Jesus heals a woman (a good thing) on the sabbath (which violated religious laws forbidding work on the sabbath). He does not accidentally overlook a “no parking” sign. Jesus deliberately challenges those who love rules more than they love people. He follows Jeremiah in doing what God called him to do even if it means earning the enmity of some.
Jesus’ critics are indignant, but he calls them hypocrites. When good needs to be done, God favors doing what will give health and life. So Jesus said, and so he did.
A wise teacher told me that we break the law in two ways. Criminals break it by falling below its requirements. People like Jesus break the law by doing more than it requires. His purpose rises above unthinking obedience to the law to fulfilling the law—and we are his followers.
Thank you, God, for parents, teachers, pastors, and friends who have helped us understand the rules of life. Help us now, as friends of Jesus, to rise above the law and do what love compels and requires us to do. Amen.
The Luke text portrays the healing that Jesus has just performed as a call to decision, a call to “repentance and changed lives.” Hebrews proclaims to the readers that they “have come . . . to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem . . . and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant.” For Luke, Jesus and his wonderful works signal the accessibility of God’s transforming power and thus signal also the time for repentance. The accessibility of God’s transforming power is evident in the lessons from Jeremiah and the psalm, although Jeremiah has no choice! And amid opposition from the wicked, the psalmist af rms what Jeremiah had been told by God—that his life from its very beginning has belonged to God.
• Read Jeremiah 1:4-10. God offers light to a world covered in darkness. Where do you see God’s light in your life? How can you offer this light to others?
• Read Psalm 71:1-6. When in your life have you turned to God for refuge? How did trust in God help the situation?
• Read Hebrews 12:18-29. We belong to a kingdom that cannot be shaken. How does that realization help during dif cult times?
• Read Luke 13:10-17. How do the limitations we experience turn us to the power and grace of God?
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