Many of us are anxious to return to corporate worship in our respective churches. Our worship is our sacrifice of praise to God and our witness to the world of the truth we’ve found in Jesus Christ.
But let us not forget Jesus’ propensity to heal on the Sabbath. The faithful religious of His day had no problem with His healing; they had a problem with Him breaking the Law to do so. Heal on Sunday or before sundown on Friday. Don’t do it on the Sabbath. This was a commandment that Jesus intentionally broke many times, across all four Gospels.
Why? If Jesus is God, which He is, and He can do anything he wants, which He can, why break the Law that He gave?
In Matthew 22, a Pharisee tries to get the better of Jesus when he asks, “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment?” Jesus answered correctly, quoting the Torah, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind.” This, Jesus tells us, “is the first and greatest commandment, and the second is like it, you must love your neighbor as yourself.” “All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands,” Jesus concludes.
Why heal on the Sabbath? Because the primary way we love God is by loving His children. Jesus was seemingly willing to break the Law in the eyes of the faithful to show the world the more profound truth of God’s love and faithfulness.
So, as much as I’m looking forward to return to normal corporate worship, I’m proud that we’ve chosen to live into the greatest commandment to love God by loving our neighbors, especially those at greater risk and healthcare providers. Forgoing worship and then changing practices as we reopen is a witness to our love for God and His world.
After all, we serve a God who not only broke His Law to heal on the Sabbath, He broke it on the cross and calls His church to join Him there.
Pastor Adam Love is senior minister at Mafair United Methodist Church in Kingsport.