A couple of years ago I watched a video where they asked you to count how many times a group of people passed a basketball. After counting the number of passes, I felt pretty good about getting it right. That’s when another question showed up on the screen that asked if I noticed the bear moonwalking through the group of basketball players. I didn’t believe it when they showed me, so I started the video over looking for the bear. Sure enough, I was so busy trying to count that I missed the person dressed as a bear dance through the screen as they passed the ball around him.
In Matthew 12, Jesus and His disciples were passing through a grain field on the Sabbath. Since they were hungry, they picked a few heads of grain and ate them. Some Pharisees saw them and got onto them quoting the law of Moses that says you can’t harvest on the Sabbath. Jesus’ response seems odd at first, but what He said to them, applies to us. In verse 7, He said, “And if you had only known what this statement means, ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION [for those in distress], AND NOT [animal] SACRIFICE,’ you would not have condemned the innocent” (AMP).
Jesus was saying, “Don’t get so caught up in the law that you lose compassion. Quit using the law to condemn, and start finding ways to help people.” Yes, God gave us the Law, but it wasn’t intended for us to use it as a means to condemn or to keep us from living. We can’t live our lives bound by legalism. The sacrifice Jesus made on the cross paid for our sins, not our ability to follow the Law. We can’t miss what Jesus was trying to say here. God desires that you and I show love and compassion more than living a legalistic life.
If you were raised to live a legalistic life, listen to the words Jesus spoke to the legalism elites of His day. There’s more to the Christian life than following a set of rules. God’s grace is greater than your worst sin. Your salvation is not dependent on your ability to follow a set of laws or to hold others to those laws. Jesus wants us to trust God’s grace, love people, and help those in need. Don’t miss the dancing bear in the screen because you’re too busy following the rules too closely.