We are in a new sermon series on Sundays, Dignity Restored, where we are looking at the ministry of Jesus to restore broken bodies, broken hearts, broke spirits. Fundamentally, that restoration has its grounding in the life, death and resurrection of Christ… the atonement, forgiveness. But restoration is not just for spirit but also for the body
But will Jesus come through for us?
We have questions: does Jesus have the authority? the power? Does he have the will? Right now we look at Jesus priorities… his priority to restore.
This is another healing passage… this time on the Sabbath which is the commanded day of rest. What is most important to Jesus? Religious observance or restoration? As we look at the passage, we will see this is a false choice…
6 On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7 And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. 8 But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. 9 And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” 10 And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. 11 But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
The Pharisees believed they understood God’s priorities: obey Law! But Jesus doesn’t seem to be driven by that priority. What is God’s priority? Religious observance or our welfare? To understand the answer to this question, we eed to look at other passages to truly understand God’s priority… need to go to beginning:
26 Then God said, “Let us make manin our image, after our likeness…
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
The driving priority of God with humanity before the Fall was fellowship. The driving priority of God with humanity after the Fall is restoration. God wants restoration of that fellowship by means of restoration of humanity… restoring the image of God in us. The Lord’s priority is to restore! He gave us Law to show us his own character… morality… holiness. We see that in Exodus 20 and Duet. 5 where we find the Ten Commandments. Jesus summed up the Law with tow command: love God and love neighbor.
We also see to mirror God’s character in Leviticus:
“You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.”
He is calling us back to reflect his glory and be in fellowship with Him! Paul sums up God’s intent in salvation:
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
What does it mean to be conformed to image of Christ?
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature….
It means we will be conformed… re-shapthe ed… into image of God.
This is our original design! Restored! Glorified!
And this is God’s design… Jesus mission… restore! The Law is part of the means: showing our failings and need for mercy… showing us how sacrifice can atone for sin… the fruit we hope to be borne in our lives but the Spirit’s work in us.
Confusion in living out our priorities is not uncommon. We begin to confuse the means with the goal. Loving family means providing… working hard to provide… and then working so hard you never see your family: work has replaced family as priority. Loving children means making sure they can succeed in life and that mean study. So we push them hard in their studies. Sometimes we push them so hard that they resent it and us. Study has replaced children as priority. We confuse the instrument of the law with fulfilling God’s purpose in our lives. So we pound on the expectations, drive each other to perform and drive ourselves to exhaustion, resentment, despair.
This is where the Pharisees are… as well as many contemporary Christians. We must rediscover the truth that God wants to show mercy that people might be restored. When we interpret the Law… the word of God… in a way that contradicts his mercy to restore, we have read it wrong!
I am praying for the wisdom to read God’s intentions rightly that I may be an instrument of His mercy. I am praying the same for you!