“And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils…” ~ Mark 1:32-34a
Wrapped in what appears to be a marvelous message of miracles is a troublesome tragedy left from the legacy of legalism. In these verses we learn that the people (of Capernaum) brought all their sick to Jesus who healed and cast demons from many of them. This was indeed a wonderful miraculous experience for the people of that city, but the tragedy was that they had to wait till the Sabbath ended, after sunset, to come to Jesus (see Mark 1:21-34).
The Scribes and Pharisees had so distorted God’s Word with their legalistic teaching that the people believed that on the Sabbath, the day they set aside to dedicate themselves to worshipping God, on that very day, they could not bring their troubles to Him. On the very day that was set aside to commune with God, they were not allowed to tell Him their troubles. On the day they celebrated God’s power, they were barred from experiencing it.
Can you imagine someone, writhing in excruciating pain from an illness, being told:
“God won’t help you now because it’s the Sabbath; miracles aren’t done on the Sabbath, it’s too special. Just wait until the Sabbath’s finished, if you’re still alive by then, maybe God will help you. In the mean time just try and cope.”
This view of the Sabbath is not just wrong; it is dangerous. For it implies that God values protocol more than people. And, therefore, we must always practice the right rituals to stay in God’s favor. However, as Jesus showed us, it’s just the opposite: God LOVES people (John 3:16-17) not protocol and we can never ritualize the path to righteousness (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Nevertheless, this false perspective still persists today in various forms. The people in Jesus’ day thought they couldn’t approach God because it was the Sabbath, nowadays we hear:
1. I can’t come to God, I’m too sinful.
BUT, When can anyone be sinless enough to demand entry into God’s presence? We are all sinners and we come to God not because of our goodness, but because of His mercy!
2. I can’t come to God, I’ve done too much bad stuff.
BUT, Even one sin disqualifies us from God’s presence. AND we were all born with Adam’s sin, so we’ve ALL done too much bad stuff. But we can come to Him through Jesus who has made all the bad stuff forgivable.
3. I can’t come to God, I don’t know what kind of church (denomination) is the right one.
BUT, Who we worship is far more important than where we worship. And, He promises that we will find Him if we seek Him.
God loves us every day (even on the Sabbath), and every moment of every day. He wants us to come to Him with our burdens and troubles, to commune, to fellowship, to talk with Him every day, and every moment of every day. And the path to God is not through any ritual; the path to God is through faith in Jesus Christ who died for our sins because of God’s love for us: A love we don’t deserve, a love we cannot earn.