Jesus and the Rule-Abiding Ruler

As a substitute teacher’s aide in my hometown school district, I know the word “rules” is an unpopular word with probably a majority of the student body.  How many times have I seen a kid’s eyes roll up when reminded of a rule they were not adhering to?  More than I could possibly count.  I wonder sometimes if you told the kids to run down the hallway as fast as they could and shout as loud as they could instead of the typical line of “walk in straight line with a bubble (aka mouth closed)”, what would they do?  I reckon most of them would go ahead and run and shout anyway; that is, after they got over the shock of being told to go against the long established hallway rules.

I don’t shun rules.  Quite the contrary!  I need them!  I crave them!  A common trait on the autism spectrum is “strict adherence to the rules”.  If I am in an environment where there are no rules or it is assumed I should know them without being told, my anxiety level goes up.  I have a hard time understanding those who act as if the rules don’t apply to them.  Such as someone ahead of me in an express line of 15 items or less who has a cart full.

I know that some rules can be harsh and unfair, but without rules, chaos would reign and that would be bad.  Rules have their place in our lives, but even I, a rule abider, realizes there are times when rules come second.  Love and compassion should lead the way.

Rules vs. compassion remind me of a story about Jesus and a synagogue ruler.  On a Sabbath, Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for 18 years. She was bent all over and could not get up. When Jesus saw her, he had compassion on her.  He called her forward and said to her that she was now free from her infirmity. Then he put his hands on her and she immediately straightened up and praised God

You would think all those who saw this miraculous healing would have been cheering this woman who was no longer crippled.  Some were but not the synagogue ruler.  It wasn’t in the rulebook that one could be healed on the Sabbath.  That was the sticking point.  It was against the rules to do anything on the Sabbath, including healing, according to the synagogue ruler.  The ruler said to the people that there were six days of work.  If you want to the healed, come on those days, not the Sabbath.

The Lord did not keep silent and let the ruler have the last word.  He declared those crying foul were hypocrites.  He reminded them that they untie their oxen or donkey from the stall and lead it to water.  If that was okay, then why not the woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for 18 long years be set free on the Sabbath day?  The synagogue ruler did not have a comeback answer.

When Jesus said all this, his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things Jesus was doing.  You could say that between Jesus and the synagogue ruler, Jesus won the round that time.

The Sabbath day is a day of rest and worship.  Jesus demonstrated it isn’t a day of rest from us being about our Heavenly Father’s business of loving Him and our neighbors and showing that love with acts of kindness and compassion.  There’s not a bad day for loving your fellow man.

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