One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. There in front of him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?" But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way. Then he asked them, "If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?" And they had nothing to say. (Luke 14:1-6)Jesus is speaking of mercy - and love. These are practical matters. Jesus is not speaking concepts that are difficult to understand. The pharisees were watching Jesus closely and trying to connect him with breaking the rules of the Sabbath because they were envious. They wanted to find fault in him.
So instead of seeing his mercy and love for others, they only saw Jesus through eyes of envy.
This provides a lesson for each of us as we consider through what perspective we are seeing Jesus.
Are we seeing Jesus as he is?
This is an important question because many organized sectarian institutions and their teachers and members that claim to follow Jesus are seeing Jesus through the perspective of Jesus having died for their sins - or seeing Jesus by the ability of Jesus healing their leg or helping them win a soccer game or helping them get wealthy.
In other words, they are seeing Jesus only through the perspective of what they get out of Jesus. They are, in other words, wanting only to use Jesus. Either they want to use Jesus to cleanse their sins or they want to use Jesus to get rich or healthy or win football games. Is this the same as following Jesus?
This perspective is not so far away from the perspective of the pharisees who were looking to trap Jesus so they could have him arrested. Why? Because it was all about them. They wanted to achieve their self-centered goals, and Jesus was a means to do that.
Let's look at this more closely. Let's say that an FBI agent hunts down and catches someone on the 10-most wanted list. They will probably get a commendation or a raise or at least be honored by the other FBI people, right? Because they caught someone who the FBI wanted to catch?
This is the same perspective that each of these pharisees saw Jesus. If one of them could catch Jesus breaking the Sabbath they would be honored by other members and possibly even the high priest for catching Jesus in the act of breaking the Sabbath. This could help them gain notoriety and followers - and this was why they were envious of Jesus: Because they wanted to have followers just as Jesus had followers.
So each of them were seeing Jesus through the perspective of self-centeredness.
This is not much different than a person who sees Jesus as a means to become cleansed, or wealthy, or become a winner.
This is why Jesus said:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matt. 7:21-23)We can see from this statement that the manner in which Jesus wants his followers to perceive him is:
"one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."
What is doing the will of God?
It is serving the Supreme Being. This is the opposite of self-centeredness. This is God-centeredness. Someone who wants to do God's will is not concerned about becoming wealthy, or being a success, or even having their sins cleansed.
What Jesus is speaking about is love: To fall in love with someone means we want to please that person, right? This is what Jesus wants from his followers.
Why? And why is Jesus so concerned about healing others on the Sabbath?
Because when one falls in love the Supreme Being, they not only become happy and fulfilled. They also automatically fall in love with God's family - each of us.
This was Jesus' position: He was God's perfect lover. He loved the Supreme Being with all his heart and soul, and he thus loved each of us. When he saw someone suffering, he wanted to help them. Yes, even if it was just their temporary physical body - he cared for them.
But his main concern was to heal each person spiritually. His healings were only to bring attention to his teachings. Healing the body only has a temporary effect. Each body dies regardless of whether it was healed at some point. But at the point of death, we (the spirit-person within) will move on, and where we go depends upon whether we are healed spiritually or not.
So how did Jesus heal people spiritually?
Through his teachings. By guiding us back to our loving relationship with the Supreme Being. This is why Jesus' most important and his second most important instructions were:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matt. 22:37-39)