Matthew 12 contains two stories about working on the Sabbath – Saturday. One is about Jesus and his disciples picking and eating grain, and the other is about Jesus healing a man with a withered hand. Both actions were criticized by the Pharisees, for they saw it as breaking the 4th commandment, “Keep the Sabbath holy.”
Physical condition in the Bible is always emblematic of spiritual condition, thus we see mankind’s spiritual condition in the two stories: Our insatiable needs, suffering, and incompetence. In response to his critics Jesus asked, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath day to do good or to do harm?”
What is God’s answer to this question? God is such that in the presence of human failings He must either help or harm, and he cannot harm; he must either save or kill, and he cannot kill. Therefore, we have Calvary, the cross, the Son’s blood, the breaking of God’s heart, and the sacrifice by which he lifts crushed, bruised, broken humanity and remakes it.
What then is the Christian’s answer to this question? No Christian who comes into the presence of a failed, and sorrowful person can pass them by because, like God, we must either help or harm, and seeing as we are not to harm, we must help. In the presence of a hungry spirit, and a withered life we must tell about Jesus. Not to do so, is to be complicit in the forces that destroy.