Monday, December 30, 2013

“Honoring the Sabbath” Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday January 5, 2014

Purpose: To see the spirit of love trumps the letter of the law

Bible Lesson: Luke 6:1-11
Background Scripture: Luke 6:1-47

Luke 6:1-11 (CEB)
(1) One Sabbath, as Jesus was going through the wheat fields, his disciples were picking the heads of wheat, rubbing them in their hands, and eating them. (2 )Some Pharisees said, "Why are you breaking the Sabbath law?"

(3) Jesus replied, "Haven’t you read what David and his companions did when they were hungry? (4) He broke the Law by going into God’s house and eating the bread of the presence, which only the priests can eat. He also gave some of the bread to his companions." (5) Then he said to them, "The Human One is Lord of the Sabbath."

(6) On another Sabbath, Jesus entered a synagogue to teach. A man was there whose right hand was withered. (7) The legal experts and the Pharisees were watching him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. They were looking for a reason to bring charges against him. (8) Jesus knew their thoughts, so he said to the man with the withered hand, "Get up and stand in front of everyone." He got up and stood there. (9)Jesus said to the legal experts and Pharisees, "Here’s a question for you: Is it legal on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?" (10) Looking around at them all, he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." So he did and his hand was made healthy. (11) They were furious and began talking with each other about what to do to Jesus.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

Today’s lesson offers a unique challenge, because this text challenges each of us in our own comfort zone. The Scribes and Pharisees were not bad, or evil individuals. They were the most scholarly of their day. They were doing everything they could think of to make certain that their lives were lived according to the law and tradition that had been laid down by their forefathers. The truth is they had found a certain comfort in simply following the rules that had been handed down.

To understand their position you need to go back into the history of the Jewish people. In 587 B.C. Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple were destroyed by the Babylonians. Their religious leaders were carried away. Most of them felt defeated and abandoned by Yahweh, the God they worshipped, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Finding themselves in a foreign country surrounded by unknown Gods they began to doubt the strength of Yahweh. Coming to the conclusion they had not been as obedient as they should be they set out to correct themselves, which we can see in the Books of Nehemiah and Ezra.

Another event that took place was the transcribing of the scriptures by the 70 priest and scribes gathered in Alexandria Egypt by Alexander the Great. This gave them a complete copy of everything written by Moses and the prophets, as well as David and the Psalms. Seeing all of the rules given by God to Moses, they thought adding more rules and requirements would make them better followers of Yahweh. It would be easier to tell the real from the fake, the committed from the casual.

As with most of us they resisted any change, and they could use their own made up rules and laws to back it up. I think today’s churches face a similar problem. We want our churches to get younger but we cling to traditions and our own made up rules that carry little meaning to our younger worshippers.

I grew up with this legalistic attitude, it was okay to go swimming on Sunday as long as you went to church first. It was okay to go roller skating on Sunday evening as long as you went to youth group first. It was never okay to go dancing or play cards. I carried this legalistic burden into my young adulthood, and thought people were Christians or not, on how their beliefs and lifestyles lined up with mine. I had become pharisaic in my beliefs. Follow the rules and worship the way I do and you were a Christian.

Jesus came with a new idea, it is what is in your heart that makes the difference, not how well you follow rules. Doing good is always appropriate, not doing good, when you have the opportunity, is sin. God’s law of love trumps everything.

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