Luke 6:6And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered. 7 And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day".... 9 Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it? 10 And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other. 11 And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.
This passage of scripture teaches us the sacred truth, that there must be a correct balance between the letter of the law, and the spirit of the law, for if there isn't a good understanding between them both, it is possible for sincere Christians to be driven to either extreme. The indwelling of The Holy Spirit can keep us from quenching mercy and kindness, in favor of a strict interpretation of the law, such as was the case here with the pharisees, who were seen to be sticklers for the smallest iota of the law, whilst the greater issues such as mutual kindness and compassion were left on the back-burner.
By His words and actions, Christ demonstrated that the healing of the man in this situation, was no affront to the commandments of God, because the passage begins by stating that He went into their synagogue to preach, and it was whilst there, that He observed that the man was in need of healing. In the ancient sanctuary, the mercy seat was strategically positioned above the law, because God delights in mercy, and does not take pleasure in the death or misfortunes of any person. Let's read:
Ezekiel 18:32For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.
What is worthy of note in the above experience of the healing of the man with the withered hand, is that the pharisees were "Maddened" because the man found relief from his ailment through Christ, and thus, what was supposed to be a cause for great rejoicing, was turned into bitter accusations and finger pointing, all because there was a serious imbalance between the letter and the spirit of the law.
But there is the other extreme, of which we are also to be wary, for mercy does not dispense with the law, nor should it ever be used as a basis for deliberate disobedience, as is often the case in our day, where many Christians take unwarranted liberties under the guise of mercy, and thus are led to trample upon the law of God. If this incident were to be taken to the very extreme, it may lead us to go shopping on the Sabbath, clean our homes, wash our clothes, cook our food, and perform many other secular duties which should be left for the other six days of the week. When Jesus stated that it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath day, He would have us consider carefully what He meant, because "Well" can be a very broad word.
This word "Well" can then lead a garbage man employed with the county to pick up garbage over the Sabbath hours, and it can lead firefighters, policemen, electricians, wardens, farmers, dentists, mechanics, accountants, and even politicians to place their jobs under that one big umbrella of doing "Well", for many reasons can be given where worship on the Sabbath should be surrendered for doing well. For instance, a mechanic is on his way to church, and he sees someone with coolant running out of their radiator, and immediately, the natural instinct is to do "Well". The act in and of itself may be good, but the timing may be inappropriate, for we must also be careful not to leave Christ, and the worship that is His due, for last.
In cases of real emergency, when there is human life at risk, or if, as in the case of Christ, someone who is already at church falls sick, then it is our sacred duty to call the ambulance, or go to the pharmacy to procure whatever medications might be needed, for in such instances, there is no guilt whatsoever in the sight of God. Let us therefore seek for the right balance between the letter and the spirit, by submitting ourselves to be led by The Spirit, for God will teach us in every instance, what is the right course of action to pursue.
We therefore end with a passage of scripture which teaches us the general rule of thumb, as it pertains to this important issue, and may we be humble and willing enough, to follow where God leads the way. Let's read:
Micah 6:8He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
May God add His blessing to the study and practice of His word. "Good night" and God bless!