Throughout the 4 gospels, the people Christ had the most controversy with were the religious leaders of His day. These were the people that prided themselves on doing what God said. But in following the letter of the law (and tacking on even more laws of their own), they completely missed the motivation that God wanted them to have.
And in missing the motivation, they missed the boat completely.
Matthew 6:5- “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” These people cared nothing about the actual object of their prayers. They weren’t praying out of love in meeting someone’s needs.
Matthew 9:10-13- “And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” The religious leaders didn’t see the needs, only the faults.
Matthew 12:10-14- “And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other. Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.” These men were completely blind to the miracle Jesus had just done before their very eyes! They had no rejoicing for the man’s healing.
Matthew 21:14,15- “And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased.” Again, the religious leaders fail to see the love of Christ for the people in need, and see only what they believe to be transgressions.
Mark 2:1-12- “And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. But there was certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.” It never occurred to me until this last week that while they couldn’t get the man with palsy into the house except through the ceiling, the scribes were right around Jesus. Instead of making room for the sick and injured to get to Jesus, these religious leaders were taking up the space! They cared not at all for those trying to get to Jesus in need!
Mark 3:1-6- “And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.” Jesus was upset at their coldness.
In Matthew 22:37-40 it tells us that all of the law and prophets hang on the verses about loving God and loving others.
God gave us the law to define love.
There are lots of new traditions that we have also tacked on to God’s word, just like the Pharisees did in their day. When other Christians or churches don’t do things exactly the way we do, we judge them, instead of seeing the purpose behind our actions. The whole point of church and ministry is to reach others with the gospel; to meet the needs of a lost and dying world, and to reach out to our family of Christ in love. Don’t let your law, and God’s law, cause you to lose sight of the purpose behind the law, which is to love.That was never God’s intention.