"And he looked around at them in anger, grieved at their hardness of heart.”
Read: Mark 3: 1 – 19
In this passage Jesus has just performed an awesome miracle by healing a man with a withered hand. This should have been a time of great rejoicing and praising God for his healing works. Unfortunately this was not the case. The healing, unfortunately was another opportunity for Jesus’ critics to accuse him of not following the rules.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ time are so frustrating. They are so focused on keeping outward laws and morality that they couldn’t see the forest for the trees. They were too busy nitpicking Jesus’ actions that they missed God among them. This obviously frustrated Jesus because he became angry and saddened because of their “hardness of heart.” These leaders were missing the point altogether. Jesus, the chosen Messiah, was in their midst and he had compassion on a man who was deformed and healed him. I am pretty sure the man could have cared less that it was the Sabbath and that Jesus was breaking the law. He was healed! Praise God! Not so with the religious zealots.
We humans are like these religious leaders to often. So many have turned Christianity into a religion of rules and regulation are missing the point altogether. They so easily throw grace, compassion and forgiveness out the window in order to keep the rules and regulations, but the reality is sometimes we need to break the rules* to do what God wants us to do.
What do I mean? Many are quick to condemn and criticize those who are different from us (whether it be socially, culturally, sexually or theologically) that we lose focus as to what Jesus commands of us. Jesus commands his children to love people. He doesn’t command us to only love those who think, talk and act like us. No, we are to love as Christ would love. This is why they Gospel is imperative to us all.
The Gospel brings to light to the fact that we are all sinful. We have all fallen short of the glory of God. However, God in his great love laid down his life and made a way for us to have life as well. We don’t deserve it. We are not entitled to it… but God gives it to all who believe. When I take this to heart and fully understand the Gospel it helps me realize that since God granted grace to me, I should grant grace to others. Now whenever I encounter others seem different from me (socially, culturally, sexually and even theologically) I try not to have a hard heart with them and I try to extend grace because I believe this is what Jesus would do.
- The rules I speak of are often self-imposed human rules that have been elevated to be synonymous with God’s rules.