Here is the context of this event from the Book of Luke:
The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, "Get up and stand in front of everyone." So he got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, "I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?" He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He did so, and his hand was completely restored. (Luke 6:7-10)So we can see that Jesus was teaching a lesson about the Sabbath. The Pharisees and the Jewish teachers were envious of Jesus, and thus were trying to usurp his authority by criticizing him.
The pure teachings
It is important to understand that the Jewish teachers and authorities were trying to find fault in Jesus' practices and teachings because Jesus was teaching the pure meaning of the doctrines passed down through the lineage of teachers often characterized as "prophets." These teachers, which included Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Eli, Samuel, David, Solomon, Job, John the Baptist and many others in between, taught the pure form of devotion and worship of God - love for God.
Meanwhile, the ecclesiastical Jewish teachers were representing that doctrine as a bunch of rituals and rules. These professional Jewish teachers had lost the true teachings, and Jesus, as God's representative, was clarifying those teachings among those who listened to his sermons.
How do we know this?
Jesus said, quite simply, when these same Jewish teachers asked Jesus what was the most important of Moses' commandments. To this Jesus said:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'" (Luke 10:27)And this is precisely what Moses said in Deuteronomy 6:5 to his own students. But are we sure that Moses' teachings emphasized love of God? Consider these other statements of Moses:
"Love the LORD your God and keep his requirements, His decrees, His laws and His commands always." (Deut. 11:1)
"So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today--to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deut. 11:13)
"If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow--to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to hold fast to Him" (Deut. 11:22)
"because you carefully follow all these laws I command you today--to love the LORD your God and to walk always in His ways" (Deut 19:9)
"For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you" (Deut 30:16)
"and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the LORD is your life" (Deut 30:20)Does this not provide clear evidence that this was Moses' central message?
If this isn't enough, we can also learn this was Moses' central message from Moses' most celebrated and devoted student, Joshua. Joshua also clarified Moses' most important teachings:
"But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to obey His commands, to hold fast to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul." (Joshua 22:5)
"So be very careful to love the LORD your God." (Joshua 23:11)We can see from these verses that while Moses, representing God, certainly laid down some rules to help govern the society, these were not the thrust of his teachings. His teachings were to give our hearts and our lives - our love - to the Supreme Being.
This teaching is dramatically different than the teachings of the sectarian Jewish institutions then and now - as well as drastically different than the teachings of sectarian teachers of today.
Why? Consider what it means to love someone to the extent mentioned in the verses above. To love someone, we have to know them, yes? We cannot love someone we do not know. Therefore, we must first come to know God.
How do we come to know someone? The first way is to spend some time with that person. But how do we get close enough to someone so great as the Supreme Being? We can also rephrase this: How come to can we see God?
We can only see God if He reveals Himself to us.
Many challenge God by saying, "if God exists, why can't I see Him?" But what they do not realize is that they cannot see God because God does not want them to see Him.
Because they do not want to see God. They want to be away from God. When we want to be away from God, the Supreme Being - being the kindest and most loving person - will take away our ability to see Him. He does this by giving us a physical body to occupy, which presents us with an illusion that we are this physical body. He also set up the senses so they are limited. The combination of us identifying ourselves with these physical bodies together with the senses not being able to see Him give us the illusion that we are away from Him.
All this because we wanted to be away from God. This is the characteristic of the most perfect, loving Person - He does not force Himself upon us. If we want to be away from Him, He lets us go.
But because since He is omnipresent and the Supreme Being, the only way we can really be away from Him is if He puts us in the illusion that we are away from Him.
This is where we are now: In an illusion that we are these temporary physical bodies, and we cannot see God.
There is only one way to change this situation: If we change our hearts. We have to want to be with Him. We have to want to see Him. Then, and only then, will we begin to see Him, and then and only then will we learn more about Him and come to love Him.
A change of heart
Why does this require a change of heart? Because we are self-centered at the moment. In order to want to love God we have to reject being self-centered. We have to become God-centered. We have to change our consciousness from wanting to do what we want to wanting to do what God wants.
Just consider what a man does when he wants to get closer to a woman. He finds out what she wants, and then he does it. Because most women like flowers, the man will bring the woman some flowers on their first date. This opens the doorway for the woman to reveal herself to the man - so they can get to know each other.
The man will also find out what pleases the woman in other ways. Does she like certain types of restaurants, or going for a hike perhaps? Whatever she will want to do, the man will do that, all in order to get her to open up to him, so he can get to know her.
It is not much different with the Supreme Being. If we really want to get to know the Supreme Being, the first thing we will do is find out what He likes. What pleases Him. Then we would do those things.
And God's representatives such as Jesus and Moses tell us what pleases the Supreme Being. They tell us that praying to God, thinking about Him, speaking about Him, praising His Holy Names and living our lives simply and for His benefit pleases Him.
Why do these activities please Him? Because these activities increase our focus upon Him, and He begins to reveal Himself to us, which increases our love for Him (because He is so beautiful and perfect). And as our love increases for God, we become happy. We become fulfilled when we are loving our Soul Mate, God.
This is the amazing thing about the Supreme Being: He does not need us to pray to Him. He does not need us to worship Him. He is self-sufficient. He does not need us at all.
But He loves us. He wants us to be happy. And the only way we will be happy is if we return to our natural position as His loving caregivers.
This is why we all spend so much of our time here in the physical world looking for love. We're all looking for someone to love and someone who will love us for who we really are - not for how much money we have or how famous we are. Or how good looking our body is, or whatever.
This is the Supreme Being. He loves us for who we really are. He cares for us no matter how badly we goof up. He wants us to be happy regardless of how badly we treat ourselves and others.
It all starts with a simple desire. If we pray or even think sincerely: "God please let me come to know You and learn to love You," the Supreme Being will begin the gradual process of opening Himself up to us.
Yes, the process is gradual, because a real change of heart typically comes gradually. Rarely can a person immediately change from being self-centered to being God-centered. It comes in increments. The Supreme Being begins to stage lessons that occur within our physical lives that begin to teach us about Him.
For those who become serious, He will direct towards one of His representatives, who can introduce us to Him personally. God sends His representatives to the earth to teach about Him in every generation. And these representatives are only known to those who sincerely want to come to know and love the Supreme Being.
This is what Jesus was doing. He was introducing His serious students to the Supreme Being, by teaching them. He was also showing, when directed by the Supreme Being, his authority to do this. This was accomplished through a variety of means, one of which was with healing the bodies of some.
But healing was not Jesus' purpose. Otherwise, he would have been a doctor, and set up a hospital. Instead, Jesus' focus was his teachings. His sermons. His healings were done typically to illustrate his potency - his authority - granted by the Supreme Being.
In this case, we can see that Jesus specifically healed this man's hands to illustrate to the Jewish teachers that they were missing the core principles of Moses' teachings. They were focused on the external rules and rituals while missing the purpose and intent of Moses' teachings.
Living a regulated life is extremely helpful for helping us with a change of heart. But it is not the core purpose. The core purpose is to change from selfish consciousness to a consciousness of caring about and living for the Supreme Being.
Jesus was illustrating that caring for others is pleasing to the Supreme Being. These are God's children. Thus caring for God's children during the Sabbath - or Sunday for that matter - does not break the principle of the Sabbath or Sunday.
The principle of Sabbath or Sunday is that we should take at least one day off from our labors to make money - to focus our mind and heart upon the Supreme Being.
This does not mean that the other six days should not be focused upon the Supreme Being. Every day should focus upon the Supreme Being. But the principle of one day off per week is to help us regulate our lives so that we gradually become more and more focused upon Him - learning to "hold fast to Him."
It is like training wheels. At first, the child needs training wheels to ride the bike. In the same way, a person at the beginning of their spiritual journey back to the Supreme Being needs to start with at least one day per week where we focus on reading scripture, singing God's Holy Names, making offerings to God, and otherwise trying to do what pleases Him. This can also include caring for others, assuming we are seeing others as His children.
But as we progress, we should begin to read scripture daily, sing and otherwise repeat God's Holy Names daily, and make offerings to Him every day. This will keep our mind and heart focused more and more on Him. As we progress in this focus, He will gradually become more and more visible. Our spiritual vision will increase and we will be able to increasingly see Him with our spiritual eyes - which are opened up only by love for the Supreme Being.