One of my sabbatical goals is to read the entire Bible in 16 weeks. A few weeks ago, when I told someone what I was doing, their only response was… “Why?” Sometimes it is best to just savor a verse or two…or maybe spend a few weeks in one book of the Bible, but there is also value in getting the panoramic view. Whenever I take a panoramic view, I notice themes in a new way.
For example did you ever notice how often Jesus abused the sabbath? I mean in the eyes of the religious leaders, the Pharisees. Jesus just couldn’t stop messing with the Pharisees when it came to the Sabbath. It’s like Jesus took every opportunity he could grab to tweak the religious noses of the Pharisees, when it came to the Sabbath. He would heal on the Sabbath, take long walks on the Sabbath, pick grain on the Sabbath, and even told a man to pick up his cot and walk on the Sabbath. All of these activities constituted work, which was a major league religious no-no in Jesus day. The Pharisees (religious leaders) loved their Sabbath rules…and Jesus loved breaking their Sabbath rules. I think he just wanted everyone to know that religious tradition and legalistic codes could never substitute for a relationship with God.
I wonder…if Jesus were hanging out in our community, what traditions, what religious codes, what distinctives would Jesus keep messing? Maybe our denominations? Maybe the pride we take in the way “we” do worship? Maybe some of our theological distinctives? Do we have any religious traditions or legalistic codes that we are substituting for a relationship with God? Because the reality is that sometimes trying to follow a rule is easier than trying to follow Christ. I don’t know…we probably should be careful, maybe Jesus is messing with us….