The Murderous Plot Begins
Religious folks—the kind who stay true to their standards, scrupulously keep their holy days, maintain disciplined food regulations, and have clear behavioral standards about what to do and what not to do in their worship gatherings—I expect that these kind of folks would be the “good guys” in God’s story. But as Matthew begins to introduce us to the plot against Jesus in his Gospel, he takes us into a Sabbath gathering. A man with a crippled hand stretches it toward Jesus. Instantly, it’s healed. I expect to see everyone in the synagogue dancing for joy. (I have someone very close to me with two hands that don’t work, and I would dance for a long time if those fingers suddenly uncurled and picked up a dime again,) Instead, Matthew writes,
“But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.” - Matthew 12:14
When Matthew began Jesus’ story with the birth narrative, he strongly foreshadowed that there would be plots against Jesus life. Joseph had to rush to Egypt with his young family to escape the clutches of Herod’s murderous fingers. When Herod Antipas, Herod’s son, took over part of his dad’s kingdom and ended up arresting John the Baptist, I am not surprised that he, like his father, is the bad guy. What I don’t expect is for the popular moral teachers, the teachers who went out among the people and taught them how to practice the Laws of Moses, to stomp out of the synagogue meeting after Jesus healed the man with the withered hand and start plotting how to murder Jesus. The reaction of these Pharisees forces me to ask, “Where am I focused on only external religions actions instead of on God’s gracious covenant love? How does my passion to keep the rules blind me so that I don’t see the wounded lambs hurt in the pit?”
Lord, thank you for your passion for people, especially those who are hurt. Protect me from a prideful, critical spirit that pushes me to check off my next religious obligation, instead of allowing Jesus to help me see the hurting, wounded person. Thanks for opportunities this week to stop and pray with friends who needed your care and your help.
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