In both chapter 13 and 14 of Luke, there are stories of Jesus healing on the Sabbath. In chapter 13, Jesus is teaching in a synagogue when he sees a woman “who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years,” and He heals her.
The synagogue ruler was upset that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, so he told the other people in the synagogue not to come to be healed on the day of rest. But Jesus said, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?”
In chapter 14, Jesus was eating at a Pharisee’s house on the Sabbath. It says He was being watched by the group of Pharisees He was with. When Jesus saw a man who suffered from dropsy, He asked the Pharisees if they thought it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath. When they didn’t answer, Jesus healed the man and said, “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?”
If you tried to legalistically live out the Sabbath law, you would be so wrapped up in figuring out what constitutes as work (does brushing your teeth count?) that you would miss out on the true purpose and blessing of the Sabbath.
We as Christians often judge and criticize others because we get caught up in legalities, just as the Pharisees and religious leaders judged Jesus. In both of the stories, Jesus gives examples of breaking the Sabbath law in order to take care of others.
Jesus always prioritized people over laws. He didn’t give us laws so that He could punish us for breaking them, He gave us laws so that we could live in a way that reflects His love. When we forgo helping others or doing God’s work because we are afraid of some technicality, we miss the whole point.
We do the same thing when we choose not to associate with non-believers. Yes, 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be yoked with unbelievers,” but if we take that to mean that we can never be around non-believers at all, we lose out the opportunity to show others what God’s love is like.
We are shown many times throughout the Bible that our main tasks in this life are to love God and to love others, yet these seem to be the things we forget to do the most. This is because it is so much easier to chastise others for breaking laws and to tell ourselves we are just doing it to make the world a better place than to truly show love to someone. Loving someone might even mean that you need to tell them that what they are doing is wrong, but correcting someone in love looks very different than admonishing someone.
Sometimes we make mistakes in this area even when we have good intentions. We might not always know exactly what God intends but letting ourselves be guided by love is a good place to start.