28th FEBRUARY

Luke 6: 1 - 11

“I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: 

to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”

Sir Humphrey Appleby was the fictitious senior civil servant in both “Yes Minister and “Yes Prime Minister”.  He had some amazingly funny but also extremely insightful comments to make.  One such was that “civil servants have an extraordinary genius for wrapping up a simple idea to make it sound extremely complicated.”  Jesus might not have come across a civil servant in his ministry but he did come across Pharisees who I suppose could be viewed as the religious civil servants of their day.  The priests were the teachers of the law and had a view on what people should and shouldn’t be doing.  They would guide and , at times, control.  The Pharisees were the ones who interpreted the law and had quite strong opinions at times as to how it should be kept.  What was simple and straightforward become so much more complicated as the law had, over time, come to control people rather than set them free to be the people of God living in community with him and each other.

When we take a step back and look at the Law as contained in the Ten Commandments, the subject of the debate that Jesus had with those who watched him closely, we see what is at the very heart of them and that is honour.  They were given in order to ensure that God was honoured by his people and that his image in others was also honoured.  At the end of the day what is important in any relationship and what is the basis for any community is respect.  The question is, did Jesus show respect to God in what he did in healing the man on the Sabbath?

In an obsession with the letter of the law, the finer and debatable details, the critics of Jesus had missed the point and even misunderstood the purpose of the law.  The law was introduced to set the people free to be the kind of people God wanted them to be:  loving and respectful.  Jesus demonstrated respect for the man and his Father who had sent him because, as we have reflected elsewhere, what is done to help someone is done for Christ.  If we believe that God the Father and Christ are one, then, taking it to its logical conclusion, what is done for Christ is done for God himself.

We cannot separate respect for God and respect for each other because they go hand in hand as do our love for God and our love for each other.  This is the detail that matters and the end of the day, love and respect.

  • What does it mean to you to respect God’s image in another?  What does it mean to you to love as God loves?

May the love of Christ touch you and transform you;

May that same love work not only in you but also through you

that, changed from glory to glory, you might change the lives and fortunes of others.

AMEN.