This scenario from the New Testament Scriptures gives us one insight into the challenges that can face leaders and leadership at the highest of levels, and how to deal with such problems. At the beginning of Luke Chapter 14, Jesus Christ is invited to the home of a leading Pharisee for a meal, and it is the Sabbath.
Jesus is in the home of a prominent man, and Jesus is being carefully watched.
We too, we who claim to belong to Jesus Christ, will be carefully watched, observed, and occasionally scrutinized by others.
It is the Sabbath - that period of rest and worship, on the seventh day, from the sunset on the Friday to sunset on the Saturday. We need to be reminded that Sunday is NOT the Sabbath, and so we need to be cautious and careful regarding making laws and rules about what can be done and not be done on this day. In Scotland in particular we have made Sunday the Sabbath with regulations regarding what should and should not be done, and this has nothing whatsoever to do with New Testament teaching.
Jesus Christ is being carefully watched, and in front of Jesus there is a man who is very sick. He is very ill. Had he been planted there? We do not know, but that is a real possibility.
People invite us to a meal - invite us to a meeting - invite us to something - and it might be a trap. We just have to be aware, that that is a possibility.
What was Jesus going to do? Was this a trap? Why was this needy man present?
News had gone around that Jesus had been healing and helping men and women on the Sabbath, and some religious people were NOT pleased. Have you noticed in the Gospels how Jesus often had great difficulty with religious people?
They were all watching Jesus carefully, and Jesus is observing their faces, and Jesus discerns what is going on inside - so He asks - He takes the initiative - “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day or not?" “Is it in your law? Do you have a verse against healing on the Sabbath?" They were silenced! The conversation stopped.
Jesus had suddenly spoilt the party atmosphere. This dinner engagement was being shaken and the people present were being challenged. Jesus tends to do this in certain situations.
These religious leaders had made one big mistake. They had confused truth with tradition and righteousness with ritual.
Now, these are concepts we have to battle with today. They thought it was not right to heal on the Sabbath, and they had made that one of THEIR laws. It was NOT part of God's truth.
You hear people say, “O it has always been done this way. " That does not make it right. “We are not used to that - we have always done such and such a thing. " And the question has to be asked - Is it all that important? Is it just part of your tradition - part of your ways - a rut or habit that people have fallen into - a little law of men?
Is it essential to the faith?
This is what Jesus Christ is dealing with here. Many have their lists of do's and don'ts and such legalism finds it hard to cope with living Faith.
When Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit, many things have to go. Many areas have to be examined. Things that we had no questions over previously - after Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit, these matters are challenged.
Just think of what was about to happen in Israel and to Israel - the Temple - where you could worship - offer sacrifices - and Gentiles were about to become part of the people of God, as that dividing wall was demolished once and for all.
King George V was up in the north of England, and when at meal, a Durham miner lifted the finger bowl and drank from it. Some were shocked. Some sniggered. King George took his finger bowl and sipped from it.
To some people manners are more important than morals.
A man can turn up at a so-called social function with his third wife and nobody lifts an eyebrow - but lift the wrong fork and knife - and some people will look askance!!
Bob Mumford, in his early years, was invited out to lunch - roast lamb and mint jelly - and Bob spread the jelly on his bread! He said it tasted lovely! His host was rather shocked.
What shocks you and do we continue to do things which may shock others?
Sandy Shaw is Pastor of Nairn Christian Fellowship, Chaplain at Inverness Prison, and Nairn Academy, and serves on The Children's Panel in Scotland, and has travelled extensively over these past years teaching, speaking, in America, Canada, South Africa, Australia, making 12 visits to Israel conducting Tours and Pilgrimages, and most recently in Uganda and Kenya, ministering at Pastors and Leaders Seminars, in the poor areas surrounding Kampala, Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.
He broadcasts regularly on WSHO radio out of New Orleans, and writes a weekly commentary at http://www.studylight.org entitled “Word from Scotland" on various biblical themes, as well as a weekly newspaper column.
His M. A. and B. D.degrees are from The University of Edinburgh, and he continues to run and exercise regularly to maintain a level of physical fitness.