Luke 6: 6 – 11
“On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there.
Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”
He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.”
Jesus regularly challenged the religious systems that had become life-stifling rather than life-giving. In this story, Jesus defies the religious leaders’ focus on Sabbath keeping by re-focusing on bringing life to one who was suffering.
Neal Plantinga offers this definition of sin: Culpable shalom-breaking. Plantinga emphasizes that it is particularly helpful to consider this in a communal sense – rather than simply individual sin management. How does a community interfere with the cultivation of shalom? If shalom is God’s vision of flourishing life in which deep peace reigns, then what are the things faith communities do to thwart shalom? What implication might this have on church communities embracing full affirmation of LGBTQ+ siblings in Christ?
This really challenges the typical idea of individuals making sure they do not do particular acts so that they will be right with God – perhaps even to protect their eternal salvation. The truth is that we are right with God because of all that Jesus Christ accomplished through his life, death, and resurrection. The truth is that salvation as a present, ongoing, and future reality is secured through God’s free gift of grace to us. In this security and liberation, we are able to understand sin as disrupting shalom – God’s intention for all that God loves.
Jesus liberates. Jesus brings life. Jesus tears down religion that prevents human beings from experiencing life and life abundantly.
Jesus counts the cost. The religious leaders were furious and began to plot his death.
The liberation Jesus brings inevitably confronts life-less religion.
- How have you experienced religion impeding liberation in your life?
- How have you experienced backlash from religious leaders for standing up for the liberating good news of the gospel?
Jesus knew what to prioritize and we confess that sometimes our fear clouds our vision. Give us confidence in your desire to liberate us to live life fully. Give us courage to speak up for the liberation of those confined by religious demands – demands that fail to prioritize the abundant life that Jesus promised. And grant us wisdom to know how to best embody shalom. Amen.
This Lenten reflection accompanies the Tell Your Pastor #imaffirming initiative. To learn more click here.