The Final Authority

Do we lean on the rule of the law or the spirit of the law (Luke 6:1-11)

Many people saw that Jesus taught as one having authority. His healing ministry was done in part to prove his authority. This was a challenge to the Pharisees who regarded the laws written in scripture along with the traditions developed by the Pharisees as the final authority. Although their initial intentions may have been good, the result for many of them is that the focus was more on the rules themselves than of the God they were trying to please by keeping them.

Healing on the Sabbath became a problem because of what their traditions specified as work – work was not supposed to be done on the Sabbath in order that the day could be focused on God. For those Pharisees, there was a two-fold problem: focusing on the definition of work rather than the meaning of the Sabbath and the challenge of authority. Is the law itself the final authority or is Jesus the final authority?

Those two problems are not just the problems for the Pharisees, but for us as we make decisions through the day. We live in a world with many rules – and there are usually good reasons for those rules. But we need to confront our attitudes sometimes. If our bent is to be rule followers, are we going to focus on keeping the rules for the rule’s sake or are we going to focus on the meanings and intentions of the rules? If our bent is to not be rule followers, what are we holding as  our final authority, ourselves or Jesus?

The law is good; in fact, Jesus came to fulfill the law which was given to Moses. But the intent of the law is to restore and maintain our relation with the God who gave us the law. In that regard, the law is not the end but the means.

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