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Understanding God’s Instructions

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One Sabbath day Jesus went to eat dinner in the home of a leader of the Pharisees, and the people were watching him closely. There was a man there whose arms and legs were swollen. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in religious law, “Is it permitted in the law to heal people on the Sabbath day, or not?” When they refused to answer, Jesus touched the sick man and healed him and sent him away. Then he turned to them and said, “Which of you doesn’t work on the Sabbath? If your son or your cow falls into a pit, don’t you rush to get him out?” Again they could not answer. (Luke 14:1-6 NLT)

Recently I had the pleasure of welcoming my third grandchild. Being a kid at heart, in general, I love playing with my grandkids. Climbing and sliding at the playground. Jumping waves at the beach. Kicking around a soccer ball in the backyard. Making tiny sculptures out of play dough.

But do you know what I don’t love? When my 5-year-old grandson makes up a game, and we start to play it, and then he adds rules as we go along. Often, they’re kind of crazy rules. They don’t always make sense, but they sure do always give him the advantage, so he has a better chance of winning.

Similarly, the religious leaders in Jesus’ days had added some of their own instructions to God’s laws. They were so convinced of their interpretation of Moses’ law and the prophets that they condemned the Son of God’s actions when He healed on the Sabbath.

There’s a lot of subtext going on in the story above. You see, the Pharisees had a lot of laws. I mean a lot of laws, especially about the Sabbath. The Sabbath was, and still is, intended to be a time for rest and connection with God. But the Pharisees believed and strictly enforced their own understanding of the instructions God had given in the Old Testament, and acted like you had to keep all of their instructions concerning the laws in order to be a good Jew. 

Their immovable positions actually prevented them from recognizing or honoring Jesus as the Son of God. When Jesus proved His identity through fulfilling prophecy and the many miracles He carried out, the religious scholars of the day could have scoured the Jewish writings with an open mind and found truth. Unfortunately, they did not. Their skewed rules about the Sabbath were more important to them than the evidence that Jesus was the Messiah. 

I love Jesus’ solution for religious rules that impose heavy burdens: 

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Are there any spiritual areas of your life that seem heavy or ill-fitting? God never intended you to be held in bondage to misguided religious rules. I encourage you to study the Scriptures for yourself and seek the truth. Pray about any issue and live in the beautiful freedom God has granted you. 


Scripture is quoted from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. 

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About The Author

Dina Sleiman

In addition to being an award-winning Christian novelist, Dina Sleiman takes great pleasure in serving the least of these through her work at Operation Blessing. This wife, mother, and grandmother loves travel, nature, dance, bungee fitness, and—of course—writing.

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