Again he entered the synagogue and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath-so that they might accuse him. And (Jesus) said to the man with the withered hand “Come here.” And he said to the (Pharisees): “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm; to save life or to kill?” But (the Pharisees) were silent.
And (Jesus) looked around them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man: “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored.
(As a result) the Pharisees went out and immediately held council (on how to destroy Him)… Mark 3:1-6 (paraphrase mine)


To do good or not to do good: Is that really the question? Or is the question about tradition vs. life and obedience to the Word of God? Why does Jesus make the Pharisees’ skin crawl and their heart grow hard? Is my heart more like Jesus’ or like the Pharisees?


I look over my shoulder a lot. Who is watching me? Who is judging or being critical concerning me? Am I considered offensive or rocking the social boat? Who is developing an offensive and negative attitude about me?

And that is only at church.

I struggle with the fear of Man. No-that isn’t quite correct. I have the sensation of swimming upstream in a river of syrup-syrup being a description of my innate sinful nature and my swimming being a description of fighting against it. Overcoming sin, especially character sin, is so very difficult.

 The Pharisees boxed the doctrine of the Sabbath in tight; rigid: A “death” tradition instead of God’s provision of life. Concerning the guy with the withered hand, Jesus wasn’t testing the Pharisees as much as giving them rope to hang themselves (theologically speaking). It was pretty easy to come to a godly conclusion: “Heal or not heal because the tradition of the Sabbath is in the way?” Duh-heal, I say, heal!!

 Ok: now I have the principle right (Obey God rather than Tradition-when tradition is contrary to the Word) how does that affect other stuff? What other stuff? Stuff like the things that makes us uncomfortable in doing. There are lots of things in that category-especially the Expressive Worship directions from the Bible. But that isn’t all.

What about stuff like stopping and praying for the guy at the grocery store who is in a wheel chair? What about really pursuing the Fruit of The Spirit? Getting after the direction in Jude 20 about building ourselves up in the Faith? What about talking out of turn (like what may be gossip)? What about letting unbelief come out of the mouth? (I remember that my mouth spits out what is abundant in my heart)

Being a Pharisee comes easy to all of us-because it is the Old Man being dominant over the New Man that has been set free from the dominion of Sin-I don’t fight it as much as I should. Why? Because it is hard to do AND it sets us out there as different. It isn’t comfortable at all.

And who wants to be different? It is so much easier to be a Pharisee. But-being a Pharisee isn’t walking worthy of the Gospel. Narrow (and demanding) is the road to Righteousness; Wide (and easy) is the road to Destruction. (Matt 7:13-14)

I think that 2018 will be digging into the nuggets of Gold about our common faith.


Journaling is not always fun, Lord. I find myself digging into my soul-and that isn’t really digging deep; it is just scraping off the top crust of my heart. I thank You, Holy Spirit, for not letting me be; for making me long for You, for making me unsettled about this life and looking for You who is Life Itself. As the minutes, hours, and days tick away create and make me nurture that desire for You and You alone. I don’t write this flippantly and for show, Lord. “Where should I go? Only You have the Words of Life.” AMEN.