Rules and regulations are very much a part of our daily lives and we can often feel that there’s a great deal of tension between rules which are there to protect us and are then perceived as a hindrance. The culture in which Jesus lived seemed to be very much dominated by rules. The Torah, or law is really what underpins the Jewish faith and the Pharisees in particular were strict enforcers of these laws, including laws around the Sabbath. There’s the balance between using the rules to allow us to flourish, and regarding them as a hindrance which stops us from doing what we want to do. There’s no point saying we can’t do exciting things because of health and safety. The rules should be used to help not hinder. It might take a little more thought or time but at least we get it right.

The Pharisees test Jesus about the law all the time. And he is adamant that he has not come to abolish the law but to fulfil it. It’s not about getting rid of laws but using them in the right way. Compassion has to come first, as in the man with the withered hand, and letting people starve rather than gather grain on the Sabbath. In this frantic world that we live in it’s more important than ever to take a day of rest but it’s not meant to be so restrictive that it’s a hindrance rather than a help. In the end, Jesus says, there are just two laws: love God and love each other. If we do that properly then the rest shouldn’t really get in the way.

Revd Liz