"But they kept silent."
These words describe the response of the scholars of the law and the Pharisees to the question of Jesus about whether it was "lawful to cure on the sabbath."
These men, these leaders, sat in silence. I figure that when someone sits in silence, it is either because they do not know the answer to a posed question, or they are afraid to answer for fear they will get it wrong.
The scholars and Pharisees knew the technical answer to that question. It is grounded in the Ten Commandments' "Keep holy the Sabbath." Jesus knew the answer too.
By curing the man with dropsy on the sabbath, Jesus was showing them something many of us need to learn today: the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. Both the letter and spirit play an important part in the exercise of our faith.
We need the letter of the law to keep us on track, to help us become disciplined disciples and obedient followers of our Shepherd.
But we also need to understand the spirit of the law, because the exercise of it keeps us from becoming rigid, narrow-minded and judgmental.
In this example, Jesus shows those gathered that there are times when helping another is a higher priority than following the letter of the law.
Ask yourself . . .
Do I practice my faith as if everything is black and white?
Do I judge the actions of others by my own standard?
Do I try to bully others into practicing religion MY way?
Do I recognize God's will and try to follow it?
Take some time this week to reflect on the passage below. Do a little self-evaluation and see if your heart needs to be opened to the ways of Christ.
On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,
and the people there were observing him carefully.
In front of him there was a man suffering from dropsy.
Jesus spoke to the scholars of the law and Pharisees in reply, asking,
“Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath or not?”
But they kept silent; so he took the man and,
after he had healed him, dismissed him.
Then he said to them
“Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern,
would not immediately pull him out on the sabbath day?”
But they were unable to answer his question.