A good friend of mine some many years ago, whom I admired, explained to me that he always gave his wife sparkling positive answers to most all her requests. Whatever she asked for, and if it was in his capability, he always answered her in the affirmative. As a new husband, I was curious to know the secret to never telling my wife no…. His advice was.
Whenever she asks for something, he always answered, “sure I will, just not today.’
In Matthew chapter 12, Jesus walks into ‘their” synagogue and finds a man with a withered or shriveled up hand. Yet, it wasn’t just the man in attendance, he encountered the usual church crowd. It was been said, there are at least four types of church attenders, the saints, the seekers, the snails, and the snakes. The saints are those who come the hear the Word, the seekers come looking for the word, the snail drag in to see the word and the snakes come to hinder it. The man with the problem would certainly classify as a seeker, however, we know the snakes were there because they challenged Jesus upon his arrival.
The hinderers of Jesus, the Pharisees, were the representatives of the religious establishment and pseudo or wannabe political leaders. No matter what good ones try to accomplish, there will always be some “credible opposition.” They interrogate Jesus with what they considered their mocking question, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath ?”
Jesus answers his accuser also with a question, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? So why does he use a sheep?
Sheep were primarily used for three things; food, their wool which was used for clothing and income. What they were saying, we are all in with putting the economy first (or the selling of sheep), but the people will just have to wait? You can help the people, just not today.
Even in 2020 in the middle of one of the worst pandemics in modern history, this is still a question worth exploring. Rarely does one hear anything about Covid-19 and the economy is not mentioned in the same sentence? The Pharisees were making the same point many are making today. Take care of the sheep first, and then we take care of the people. Our laws our livelihood is more important than a few people dying.
If you look at the current situation, putting the sheep in front of the needs and lives of people, has caused millions to get sick and tens of thousands to die. The philosophy of putting sheep before people, or “the lambs” as Jesus told Peter, is causing the economy to collapse at an even faster pace. Is this approach working or even biblical?
Jesus asks the second question of clarity, “How much more valuable is a man than a sheep!” To paraphrase, how much more valuable is the life of a man than the economy?
Could the answer to this question also be the answer to the world’s approach to solving our human and economic woes? Or will we continue to answer, “yes we are going to take care of the lambs, just not today.”