Saturday, May 19, 2012

Jesus Condemned by Scribes

In Jerusalem lived the priests and the council of Jews called the Sanhedrin who determined what w/as legal and Godly for all the people of Israel who lived all over the world.  They would make decisions and then sometimes they would send messengers to major synagogues all over the world to let people know what they decided.  For many Jews, the authorities in Jerusalem could determine what God wanted.  At times, if some teacher or prophet of Israel became very popular, they would send groups to investigate and evaluate them.  At least two groups of authorities from Jerusalem came to investigate Jesus, for he had become a popular teacher and healer.

One group that was important in Jerusalem was called the Scribes.  They could read and write—most people couldn’t in those days—and they focused on studying Moses’ law.  Another group was called the Pharisees.  They were popular teachers, and they were considered to be very holy because they interpreted Moses’ law very strictly—especially about purity—not touching impure things— and about keeping the Sabbath. The Sabbath (from Friday evening to Saturday evening) was a day all worshippers of God agreed was to be set aside to the Lord.  No one worked on that day.  The leaders in Jerusalem made laws to determine what kinds of work could not be done on the Sabbath. 

As Jesus was passing through a grain field to another town, his disciples and the crowds were following him, and a group from Jerusalem as well.  The disciples were hungry, so they plucked some grains from the field as they were passing through, and were rubbing them in their hands and eating them.  Some Pharisees who were there complained to Jesus, “Why are your disciples breaking the Sabbath?  They are harvesting grain—that is not legal to do on the Sabbath!”  They were saying this to indicate that Jesus’ teaching was inadequate.

Jesus replied to them, “Meeting people’s needs is more important than following a particular law all the time.  Haven’t you read in Scripture that David once took bread for his hungry men, even though that bread was only supposed to be eaten by priests?  And don’t you know that the priests violate the Sabbath every week, because they do their work of sacrificing on the Sabbath?  God did not create humanity to be ruled by the Sabbath.  Rather, the Sabbath was made for the benefit of people. Therefore, the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Another Sabbath, Jesus was in a synagogue, teaching.  A woman came before him who was bent double.  Jesus called her over and said she was healed and she straightened up.  The leader of the synagogue was upset and called out, “There are six days in which to be healed, but the Sabbath is to be a day of rest.”  Jesus responded, “This woman was oppressed by Satan for eighteen years.  Isn’t it appropriate for her to be healed on a Sabbath day?  And if one of your sheep fell into a hole on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you pull him out again?  So who is more important—a sheep or a human being?”

The next Sabbath Jesus was in a synagogue again.  In the front of the crowd was a man with a withered hand.  The Pharisees were looking carefully to see if Jesus would heal the man on the Sabbath, so they can accuse him of breaking the Jewish law.  Jesus called the man up to the front of the crowd.  He saw the Pharisees staring at him and he became angry.  He said, “Is it legal to do good on the Sabbath, or evil?  It is legal to save a life, or to kill a life?”  No one answered him.  He healed the man in front of them all.  The Pharisees at this point hated Jesus and wanted to destroy him in some way.

At another point, Jesus had cast out a demon.  Some of the Pharisees from Jerusalem were there, and they decided to make an announcement: “It is our official opinion that this man is healing and casting out demons by the power and authority of Satan.”  Jesus said, “You had better watch what you say.  Whatever you say shows the evil that is in you, and everyone will be judged according to every careless word they speak.  If you speak against God, that will be forgiven you.  If you speak against me, that can be forgiven you.  But if you speak evil of the Holy Spirit—that will never be forgiven.

“You know for a fact that I cannot be casting out demons by Satan’s power.  If I am casting out demons, I am in a war against Satan.  Would Satan give me authority to battle against himself, to tear down his own work?  Of course not.  You cannot go into a soldiers house to steal what is his unless you first attack the soldier.  I am only taking these people out of Satan’s control because I am attacking Satan, not helping him.  Since you are speaking lies and evil, we know that you are evil through and through—for what a man has in his heart, that is what he does and says.  By your words you will be right before God, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Jesus’ family was outside when this happened, and they were trying to take him home, because they thought he had lost his mind.  Someone said to him, “Your mother and brothers are outside.”  Jesus replied to him, “The family of God isn’t made up of people who reject God’s work.  My family is right here,“ and Jesus pointed to his disciples, “those who hear the will of God and do it.”

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