Learning vs. Criticism

A thought-provoking clip from Mark Driscoll’s recent sermon, Jesus the Sabbath Lord:

The Bible said, “No working on the Sabbath,” so the religious people came along and they made a number of rules, one of which was you’re only allowed to do emergency medical care on the Sabbath, and they had a whole list of rules for what defined emergency care—a baby being born or a traumatic accident. Religious people worked this way as well. They worked through something called “the fear of man.” Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man is a trap or a snare.”

They like to make a scene in public, that’s why they’ll swarm to a blog, swarm to a Facebook, swarm to a Twitter account, swarm to a church, swarm to a church meeting, swarm to a dinner at someone’s home.

Swarm you at work, swarm you as family members at the holidays. They swarm, and they’re always looking for an audience to pressure you, back down, compromise, be quiet. Do you want to get stung some more? Then tap out, give up, give in. So they’re always picking a fight with Jesus where there’s a crowd, and here it’s on the Sabbath, a Saturday, in the synagogue in front of an audience.

And it says they came not to listen to Jesus, but to find fault with him.

Let me say this—you need to examine your own heart.

When you listen to me, another preacher, teacher, radio, podcast, read a book, are you listening, are you reading? First asking, “Okay God, teach me. I want to be humble. I want to learn. Secondly, “Show me my sins, my faults, my flaws, my failures so I can grow.” Thirdly, “Show me things I can help other people with as a good friend.” Fourthly, “If there’s anything wrong or askew or really dangerous here, show me that so I don’t get led into error.”

But don’t start with, “If I disagree, they’re wrong, I’m right and I’m here as God to judge.”

When you come, are you coming to listen or criticize? Are you coming to find what is helpful or to pick at, critique that which you might find fault with because you’re inerrant like the Bible?

Their heart is bad.

I mean, you think about this, they had an opportunity to listen to Jesus teach, and they don’t hear a word.

All they’re thinking is, “Oh, I can take that quote out of context. That might get him in trouble. Oh, I wouldn’t have said it that way, so obviously he didn’t say it well. Yeah, that’s not a great illustration, I would have done it differently.”

They’re criticizing, picking apart the teaching of Jesus.

They’re trying to find fault.

Let me say this—there’s no fault in Jesus’ teaching, the rest of us, there’s always something to find fault in, especially me. You want to find fault with me? If you can’t find it, just e-mail and I’ll tell you what was wrong with this sermon, all right? There are lots of things wrong with this sermon.

Teachers are not inerrant like the Bible, and neither are the hearers.

And this guy walks in with a withered hand. This is a medical diagnosis by Luke the physician. I don’t know if he was born this way, had a traumatic accident, we don’t know what happened. Most people are right-handed so odds are, this is the hand he really, really needs. His right hand is withered, he walks in.

You know what this guy wants? He wants to be healed, and the religious people decided this isn’t urgent, come back another day, which is very unloving because for this guy, it probably seemed fairly urgent. Like, “My hand doesn’t work, if he could fix it, today’s good for me. It’s far better than tomorrow.”

So now Jesus has a decision.

Will he heal this man publicly in front of the scribes and Pharisees knowing that this will be their opportunity? Or does he cave into fear of man and say, “I’ll do it tomorrow, and I’ll do it privately, so that I don’t get criticized.”

And he steps forth boldly, and it says that he looked everyone in the eye.

What he’s doing, he’s saying, “You, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you would all need to make a decision. Are you gonna live for the approval of the scribes and the Pharisees, the religious legalists, or will you serve God alone?”

And Jesus tells him, “Stand up and come here and raise your hand.” This is an act of faith. “If you think I can heal you, raise your hand,” so he does. That’s an act of faith, and he’s healed. And the religious people are unhappy ‘cause Jesus didn’t paint by their numbers.

“Well, our numbers say that you can only fill in the green box for healing on a day other than the Sabbath, and you painted the right color in the right box, but you painted it on the wrong day. So we’re not happy with you.”

It’s amazing.

It’s tragic.

It’s horrible.

It’s religion, and the truth is, was this a lot of work?

The guy did this… [Raises his hand]

Doesn’t seem like a ton of work and Jesus healed him. That’s it. Wasn’t a ton of work.

It took more work to criticize Jesus than it did to heal the man. Yet in their religious ideology, criticizing Jesus doesn’t count for work, but simply having a guy raise his right hand, that was a real problem, because that’s what religious people are like.