19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”
20 “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”
21 Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”
Thoughts: Circumcision was a symbol of cleansing and healing. It was a symbol of a covenant relationship between God and His people, and it was often done on the Sabbath. The relationship with God broken by sin is healed by the covenant symbolized by circumcision. Jesus knew that he would be killed for a false judgment. They thought He was breaking Moses' Law by healing on the Sabbath, but healing and living are not incompatible with the Law of Moses. They were judging, condemning, and eventually would arrest and crucify Christ over a misinterpretation of the Law. So we must be careful to look at the heart of the Law and not just at the surface. Jesus was not here rejecting the Law altogether- as some are want to do today. He is simply interpreting the Law as compatible with healing and mercy. The heart and healing of the Law is not to abolish the Law altogether, neither is it to legalistically keep every letter. Jesus here affirms that everyone sins and therefore breaks the Law (19b), yet He does not eliminate the need for it. The Law convicts us of sin- which leads us to God's mercy. The Law also guides us to live the way we were designed to live. But the heart of the Law is love for God and neighbor. Love is a healing thing. Healing and the Law are not incompatible- but agree with each other.
Prayer: Lord, you are the heart of all truth, holiness, and law. Help me to see things clearly through your eyes.
John Calvin Abridged: The practice of circumcision was given in such a way that it was necessary to do even on the Sabbath day (the eighth day after birth sometimes fell on the Sabbath). Yet, the command of the Sabbath is not violated in the works of God. The works of God fit well with each other.