Luke – Wide Open Doors!
“Everyone’s a critic” is a quote that comes to mind when I read our passage today about the Pharisees watching every move Jesus makes. I looked up the quote, wondering where it all began. The full quote is, “Everyone’s a critic: when you are doing something good, everybody wants to bring you down, and that’s something I’ve been told. People want to see you do good, but not too good.” –Roman Reigns
The “quote” is a fact of life. Whenever we step up to do a task no one else in your group has stepped up to do, critics will be watching over you to tell you how to do it better. Whenever you express yourself as an artist, there will be critics who tell you how good you could or should be. Sometimes we live among critical people in our homes, places of work, and…at church among God’s people. Wait, what? Church?
Even Jesus Christ, Son of God, without sin…had critics.
Seriously though, are the Pharisees following Jesus around so closely that they actually see him snap off a few stocks of grain in the field? Apparently so. Being a former teacher, I can hear the tattletale whine in their voices. (Can you hear it? Nanana…you broke the law-ah.)
Luke 6, NLT
A Discussion about the Sabbath
One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples broke off heads of grain, rubbed off the husks in their hands, and ate the grain. 2 But some Pharisees said, “Why are you breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?”
3 Jesus replied, “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He went into the house of God and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests can eat. He also gave some to his companions.” 5 And Jesus added, “The Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath.”
Jesus Heals on the Sabbath
6 On another Sabbath day, a man with a deformed right hand was in the synagogue while Jesus was teaching. 7 The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.
8 But Jesus knew their thoughts. He said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” So the man came forward. 9 Then Jesus said to his critics, “I have a question for you. Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?”
10 He looked around at them one by one and then said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! 11 At this, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage and began to discuss what to do with him.
WHAT DO WE LEARN?
–The Pharisees “watched Jesus closely”. Jesus knew their thoughts. Jesus also knew the Word. He WAS the Word. He knew how to teach from the Word in a way that would challenge the critics to rethink, exposing how they had manipulated the Law of God for selfish reasons.
–Critics do not like to be exposed to Truth. Jesus is the Truth.
–When you are doing good, doing what God has invited you to do in Jesus Name, there will be critics. Always.
–Our enemy knows how to tempt us with thoughts of criticism through manipulation. He preys on our selfishness.
–Where two or three are gathered, Jesus will be in the midst, but so will critics.
–Critics don’t focus on the outcome if they were not a part of it. A man was healed and made whole! His life will be better with a good hand to make a living!
–If we are the critic, why are we criticizing? Why are we judging? What is our motivation?
Jesus is Lord of all and we are not. But we do have the Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to tell us when to speak and when to be silent to critics. How do we respond to critics with baseless claims? Peter gives us the way to live and respond. Peter, who also watched every move Jesus made and learned from Him, later writes,
“If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy.
Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:15, The Message)
“At this, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage and began to discuss what to do with him.” We cannot expect our enemies to suddenly come around to our way of thinking, but we still love them and pray for them as Jesus told us to do.
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
You are an awesome God. You are Lord of all. Your Holy Spirit lives in us. We have Your power working through us to discern your Truth. May we always be focused on You, worshiping You alone so that we will not fall into the hands of the enemy’s way of thinking. Help us to combat our critics with kindness and Your Truth. Help us to not be critics of others who are doing what You have asked them to be and do.
In Jesus Name, Amen