I’m a big rule-follower, but I was more so when I was younger. I really didn’t want to make waves or question anyone who was in charge. It’s something I’m still not really comfortable with to this day. But sometimes the rules we’re asked to follow do not align with our beliefs. And this is where life can get complicated.
The same thing happened to Jesus. A group of religious leaders called the Pharisees tried to enforce rules about what people could and couldn’t do on the Sabbath. God commanded His people to rest on the Sabbath, which is the seventh day of the week (Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:15), but the Pharisees extended God’s command to include more rules.
When Jesus broke these additional rules by healing on the Sabbath and by letting His disciples pick grain, and then declared that He is Lord of the Sabbath, the Pharisees were upset and eventually plotted to kill Jesus. But Jesus corrected the Pharisees’ ideas about the Sabbath and explained not only the meaning behind God’s law, but also how He came to give us rest in Himself. The rules the Pharisees were following, and telling everyone else to follow, did not necessarily align with what God’s Word was actually teaching, so Jesus called these people out.
Calling out figures of authority isn’t an easy role to play. For many people in the Bible, speaking out against authority led to harm or even death. Remember, the Pharisees were primarily the ones who were plotting to have Jesus crucified. But when people misrepresent the good news of Jesus, preaching injustice or evil, we are not supposed to stay silent in the face of oppression. We can speak out with courage and humility, knowing that the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead lives in us (Romans 8:11). Standing up to injustice will look different for everyone. It may not be as dramatic as yelling or flipping tables (Matthew 21:12-17), but it could mean sending an email about a concern you’ve noticed. And as we do this, we can rest in the good news of Jesus—the One who died and rose again to free us from trying to keep the law in our own strength—and we can invite others into this rest, too. • Naomi Zylstra
• Sometimes, those in authority teach things that do not align with God’s Word or help their hearers rest in Jesus. If they’re seeking to follow Jesus, they will want to be corrected so they can repent and grow. If you had a concern about someone’s leadership, how would you bring it up? Who is a trusted adult you could talk to if you experienced something unsettling?
“Come to me…and I [Jesus] will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV)