When God created the world, He pronounced that everything was very good (Gen. 1:31), no doubt perfect in every way. However, with the advent of sin the creation has been corrupted with evil, an impact seen everywhere. Humans, though created in the image of God, became subject to sickness, deterioration, and death. We often say that death is part of life; death, though, is the negation of life, not part of it. Death was never meant to be something that we experience.
Given God’s original plan for humanity, it is no surprise that some of Jesus’ most dramatic healing miracles took place on the Sabbath.
Each of the Sabbath-healing miracles is spectacular and serves to demonstrate the true meaning of Sabbath. Before Jesus healed the man with the withered hand (Mark 3:1-6), He asked the rhetorical question, Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill? (Mark 3:4, NKJV). If a person has an opportunity to relieve suffering on the day of liberation, why shouldn’t he do it? In fact, the miracle with the woman who had a bent back powerfully demonstrates the liberating purpose of the Sabbath (Luke 13:10-17). When criticized for the healing, Jesus asked, Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her? (Luke 13:16, NIV).
The theme of liberation is also present in the accounts of the healing of the man by the pool of Bethesda who had been sick for thirty-eight years (John 5:1-9), and the healing of the man born blind (John 9:1-14). In response to the Pharisees’ charge that Jesus broke the Sabbath with His healing miracles, He reminded them, My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working (John 5:17, NIV). If God did not allow the healing, it would not have happened. When it comes to relieving human misery, God does not rest.
What should we learn from the mistakes of these religious leaders about how preconceived notions can so blind us to even the most obvious of truths?