Sermon in a nutshell: Matthew 12:9-14
God wants us to live abundant life. Last Sunday we have examined two traps that we have to avoid to enjoy true rest and abundant life. When we committed sins, we have to confess and repent. On the other hand, when we keep the laws, we have to be careful not to be legalistic. In the Bible passage for the last Sunday, Jesus said, “But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.”(Matthew 12:7)
In today’s Bible passage, Jesus demonstrates actually what that sentence means. There was a man with a withered hand. Then the Pharisees, who kept the laws legalistically, asked Jesus, “Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath?” so that they might accuse him. If Jesus said “Yes!” then they would accuse him that he violated the Sabbath law. If Jesus said, “No!” they would accuse him that he had cold heart without compassion.
In this situation, instead of giving a straight answer, Jesus asked questions back. “Suppose one of you has only one sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not lay hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a human being than a sheep?” These are rhetorical questions. In other words, the answers were already in the questions. They would of course save one sheep on Sabbath day and a human being is more valuable than a sheep. Therefore, the answer to the questions would be as follows: “So it is lawful to do ‘good’ on the Sabbath.” Here Jesus did not say, “It is lawful to cure on the Sabbath.” So, people have to say whether “curing people” is “doing good.” Then Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and it was restored. Jesus did not touch the person nor did surgery for him. He himself did the “work” and be cured!
Then the Pharisees went out and conspired against Jesus, how to destroy him! They did not have compassion for the man with the withered hand. They now tried to destroy Jesus because Jesus make them upset! They did not care for the people who needed God’s love but care for their own reputation and status. We don’t want that happen in our church!
Today we commission three Stephen Leaders and receive three new members. Three weeks ago, three of us, including me, went to a week-long intensive training to be Stephen Leaders. We will train Stephen Ministers to serve people in need. What we emphasize are the dignity and value of the care receivers and confidentiality. We do not seek for our own reputation or status or to preserve the Stephen Ministry itself. I also ask the new members to focus on other people from now on. Even though you are new, you should not seek to be the center of attention. We are here to serve others and not to be served. We keep the laws to serve others better. So, let us build our church on that foundation of compassion!
1. What would make you keep serving God and people even when your ego was attacked?
2. When do you feel that you need someone who listens to your story without judging you?