Jesus knew what he was doing. He knew it was the Sabbath, and he knew it was unlawful to heal on the Sabbath. Religion had made a chore out of not working on the Sabbath. It almost seems Jesus went out of his way to heal a blind man in the synagogue on the Sabbath. Whether he used this man as a teachable moment or not, one thing is clear – the man would never be the same again. Jesus knew that there was a greater good – to heal on the Sabbath meant the man would have a whole new life. Pretty good trade, one Sabbath day of work for a lifetime of healing. On this day, the lifetime wellness of the man was a greater good than the daylong wellness of Jesus and his disciples.
I have heard that the new trend in offices these days is to shame co-workers for taking their paid vacations. I also know that vacations are often not more than working staycations, and even those who travel often bring their work with them. I wonder, what does this hamster wheel do for us? We work harder and faster to what end? Why are we in such a hurry? What good will come of it? I have come to learn that time to rest and rejuvenate is not a luxury, but a necessity. Our bodies and our brains were not designed to run 24/7. God knew it. It’s why God commanded that we rest on the Sabbath. Jesus knew it. It’s why he healed the man on the Sabbath. Jesus’ work of healing meant a lifetime of less work (begging for alms, wondering where his next meal would come from) for the man. The disciples’ plucking grain was meant to sustain them along their journey. Self-care is good for our bodies, our minds, our relationships, and even our work. Self-care is critical not only for healthy humans, but for a healthy planet. Sometimes all we need to encourage us to engage in healthy self-care is permission to do so. Ok then. Go. Rest. Rejuvenate. You have permission.
One sabbath while Jesus was going through the cornfields, his disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. But some of the Pharisees said, ‘Why are you doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?’ Jesus answered, ‘Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and gave some to his companions?’ Then he said to them, ‘The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.’
On another sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would cure on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. Even though he knew what they were thinking, he said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Come and stand here.’ He got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?’ After looking around at all of them, he said to him, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.