From the Well - 5/31/2018

bulls eye.jpeg

Mark 2:23-3:6 (NRSV) 
23 One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?" 25 And he said to them, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? 26 He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions." 27 Then he said to them, "The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; 28 so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath." 1 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2 They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man who had the withered hand, "Come forward." 4 Then he said to them, "Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?" But they were silent. 5 He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

There is a story of a small town that had a problem with a mystery shooter who used its main street storefronts and signs for target practice. Many mornings, as business's opened, there would be several new bull's eyes painted on walls and signs. In the middle of each bull's eye there was a bullet hole. Whoever the mystery person was, he or she was a good shot!

When the person was finally caught, the arresting policeman expressed appreciation for his marksmanship, as every bull's eye displayed a perfect shot through the center. The shooter laughed. "I can't shoot worth a hoot!" he told the officer. I just shot up the town and painted bull's eyes wherever the bullets hit.

The scribes and Pharisees that gave Jesus a hard time were guilty of legalism. It was a legalism that prevented a hungry person from plucking grain on the Sabbath and banned a person from receiving care and healing. It was a legalism that valued property more than people. It was OK to get a sheep out of the ditch on the Sabbath but not to pluck grain or heal a man's withered hand. Legalism condemns and breaks fellowship with those who do not conform to accepted practices.

In a sense, the Pharisees had painted bull's eyes around their laws and practices thinking they were on the mark. We don't need to be drawing bull's eyes around church programs and practices and thereby fooling ourselves into thinking that we have hit the mark. If we are not careful, we become legalistic about protecting sacred cows that need change or go away. Think about it.