Some twenty years ago, my husband attended a college campus lecture in which three speakers from the same seminary addressed students. Paul remembers being taken aback when the first minister held up the Bible and said, “When you look at this book, you are looking at God.” Hoping that he had misunderstood this man, Paul listened intently as the second and third ministers offered the exact same message, “When you look at this book, you are looking at God.” They had obviously been taught that the words in Scripture—rather than the Word made flesh in Christ—are the ultimate authority in our relationship to God.
This view is not unlike the one that the Pharisees offer in today’s passage. With their certainty that ultimate truth rests in the law, they clearly believe they have Jesus cornered when they press him on why he allowed his disciples to break a Sabbath rule. Jesus boldly responds, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath” (v. 5). Yet his audience isn’t ready to hear this statement about divine authority. Is it any easier for us to hear today? We crave certainty and find real comfort in declaring absolutes and proclaiming the rights and wrongs of the written word. But the Son of Man requires more of us than this. The truth God requires us to seek comes through an ongoing, dynamic reckoning with the living Christ.
I’m convinced that this mistaken focus that Jesus confronts is one of the reasons why people have been leaving the church in droves during our lifetime. Do we ignore what Jesus teaches here? Has the church valued rules over relationships for so long that we’ve abandoned the truth of who Jesus claims to be—a God whose law is love?
Ask yourself today the same question once asked of the apostles, “Who do you say Jesus is?” Consider whether your answer is based on words you’ve memorized or on a relationship you’ve experienced.
God, expand our narrow understanding and grow our experience of you, that we may see you clearly, love you fully, and serve you faithfully. Amen.