Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, "Woman, you are set free from your ailment." When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, "There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day." But the Lord answered him and said, "You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?" When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
Jesus broke the rules. This is important for those of us who wish to follow Jesus to remember.
There is a certain segment of the (especially American) population today who are obsessed with being law-abiding. They justify things like family separation at the border by saying that "those people" are breaking the law, and therefore they deserve whatever punishment is doled out. They justify things like police brutality by saying that if "those people" would just abide by the law they wouldn't be in danger - ignoring the fact that many, many victims of police violence have been proven to have been doing nothing wrong at the time of the encounter.
Jesus broke the rules. Jesus broke unjust laws. In this case, when Jesus healed a woman on the sabbath, the law he broke wasn't even inherently unjust. Keeping the sabbath, after all, is one of the ten commandments and something we should all strive to do. But in this particular case the law was being applied in an unjust way - trying to deny a woman healing by Jesus - and therefore Jesus broke the law. Jesus gives us the example that being just is more important than being legal.
After all, human history shows us that many, many atrocities have at some point been "legal." Everything that happened to the Jews during the Nazi reign and the Holocaust was legal. People were tortured, starved, overworked and outright murdered and none of it was against the law - it was all legal. On the flip side of that, hiding Jews, saving the lives of small children, and doing acts of mercy was all against the law - it was all illegal. But we can look at that time in history and know exactly what Jesus would have done, what Jesus call us to do. Jesus broke the rules.
As Christians, we are called to follow Jesus. Sometimes, this might mean breaking the rules. What unjust rules need to be resisted today? There are places in the USA where it is illegal to give food to a homeless person, where you can be arrested for giving water to someone in the desert. If you find yourself in such a situation, do you want to follow the law? Or do you want to follow Jesus?
I know my answer. Jesus broke the rules, and so will I.
God of rules and righteousness, give us eyes and hearts to determine which laws we should follow and which laws need to be broken in your name. Help us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, even if that path is out of sync with the world around us. Give us the wisdom and strength we need to break the rules that need to be broken. Amen.