Rules and People

Pierce Maassen

READ : Luke 6:1–11

And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” (v. 9)

Customs, rules, and regulations are necessary and should be obeyed. We must attend church regularly, keep the Lord’s Day holy, and observe the speed limits when driving.

But people are more important than regulations. That is the Lord’s teaching in today’s Scripture. The Jews were very good at keeping rules but poor in showing compassion to the needy. They thought it was more important to keep the temple regulations than to feed a starving man. The presence all about them of the hungry, the sick, and the spiritually bankrupt did not particularly bother them as long as no one broke the Sabbath. That same temptation confronts us. We may be so concerned about keeping our worship dignified that we shut out those who need the gospel. Jesus did not win followers by legislating to them about keeping the Sabbath Day holy.

Jesus’ approval of David’s action in eating the holy bread despite temple regulations does not mean that we can therefore disregard completely our responsibilities toward worship, the church, or the sacraments. Likewise, his healing the sick and picking grain on the Sabbath do not mean that we can revert to a Sunday “business as usual” policy. The holy things of our religious lives must be safeguarded, but a regulation or tradition must never stand in the way of an opportunity to do good unto someone in need. (originally published May 9, 1967)


Lord, give me a heart filled with love. Amen.