Imagine someone driving down a narrow road with a solid, yellow line down the middle. The law says to not cross this line. Suddenly, a jogger comes into view. There’s not enough room for both the jogger and car in that lane, but the driver would rather hit the jogger than cross the yellow line. This is legalism. (And I’ve been that jogger. Rules before people can be carried to bizarre extremes).
Jesus battled legalism throughout His ministry. And while He never broke the commands of His Heavenly Father, He knowingly disregarded manmade rules created to keep people in line, trying to earn God’s favor through good works. We see this played out when Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, the holy day of rest. The religious leaders of the time should have been thrilled at this miracle. Instead, they were so focused on the rules that they missed the joy.
Jesus not only reveals the compassionate heart of God through this miracle, but we see Jesus willing to break manmade rules to reach the hurting. Why? Because these unnecessary rules can create so much guilt and pain in the process that we miss the true heart of God. We can become so focused on obeying the rules that we start to think we can earn our salvation. OR we can become so hurt and burdened because of the rules that we turn away from everything remotely associated with them – Church, religion, even God himself.
Many of us have been hurt and disappointed by people or religious institutions claiming to reflect God. Out of our hurt we’ve turned away from everything they’ve stood for – even rejecting God in the process. If you’re nursing old wounds delivered by flawed people and institutions, bring it before Christ Jesus. After all, He’s been fighting legalism from the very beginning. Let Jesus fight for you. Let Jesus reveal the Truth on how to live.