Icon of Jesus Healing on the Sabbath.
Bible Readings and Devotion for April 27, 2020
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Devotion for April 27, 2020
By Pastor David Tinker
One of the great idols of humanity is the desire to control others. It is not an idol such as the false gods of the nations around the Israelites. Rather, this idol is simply a situation which one looks to for a sense of power and control. There is a sense of satisfaction for some when they make others do things their way.
This comes up in all sorts of contexts. In politics and in revolutions the desire to control others is quite common. The people or a subgroup will rise up against the oppressive government. They will promise freedom for the nation. Then, when the revolutionaries have taken control of the government, they begin their program of rules for controlling the people.
It comes up in organizations, communities, groups, among friends, and even families. Someone will try to set the rules for others. Another will like it when they can make another person do their will.
The idol of control is also a way avoiding dealing with one’s own sinfulness. In today’s reading from John 5 we have most of an account of Jesus healing on the Sabbath. There is a negative reaction to his life-giving work. The Jewish leaders condemn his actions, the actions of the man who was healed. He had picked up the mat on which he formerly sat or rested due to his ailment.
It often feels as though these leaders who enforced the liked to control others. Their insistence on the rules seems to be, at least in part, a way for them to control others. People were being made to observe the Sabbath for Sabbath’s sake. Jesus turned this around and taught us to observe the Sabbath, to have a day for rest, learning and worship, for our benefit. It is possible that the control of others regarding the Sabbath was, at least in part, a means for the people enforcing the rules to keep from dealing with their own sin.
The gift of Sabbath time for us today is for our benefit. We get to use sabbath time for rest and worship. It is not about telling others what they should do. It is not our job to force the world to do things our way. Rather, we must first look at what we are doing as compared against God’s most excellent way. Then we get to confess our sin to God. Following this, we are called to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, as St. Paul teaches us in Philippians 2:12-13. That means, we work with God to correct what is off or wrong in each of our lives with the Lord.
There are at least three reasons that we don’t need push on others about their Sabbath keeping.
1) We are not called upon to control others. The Sabbath was mean for bringing life and freedom to people, not so that others can tell them what to do.
2) We need to spend time working on how God is guiding us and saving us from the power of sin and death. We need to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. If you struggle with our own issues related to Sabbath, rest, and worship, then you have your work cut out for you.
If we strive to address these three things in our life with God, then we will lack for leisure time to lay into others about their sin and lack of Sabbath keeping.
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work or watch or weep, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, comfort the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.
Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.