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February 20th: Rules Without Why

Scripture: - Mark 3:1-19

Rules Without Why

There are many ways to lead change. By far my favorite is the way Jesus leads change in this passage.  Jesus asks the question that they cannot answer.  If they answer it the way tradition dictates, they come across as heartless.  If they answer the way compassion dictates, they violate the traditional norms they are trying to uphold.  So in Mark 3:1-6, we witness a profound moment in the ministry of Jesus Christ. He enters a synagogue and encounters a man with a withered hand. Knowing the Pharisees' watchful eyes, Jesus challenges them with a question: "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?" In their silence, Jesus heals the man, revealing the compassionate heart of God.

This passage illuminates several vital aspects of discipleship. Firstly, it underscores the importance of compassion. Jesus prioritizes relieving suffering over conforming to religious legalism. As His followers, we're called to emulate this compassion in our interactions with others, demonstrating God's love through tangible acts of kindness and mercy.

Secondly, we see the significance of courage. Jesus defies societal norms and faces opposition from religious authorities to uphold righteousness. Similarly, as disciples, we're often called to stand against the prevailing culture and defend truth, even if it means facing criticism or persecution.

Lastly, it reminds me that rules and traditions without a why quickly lose their meaning and authority.  Sabbath was made to protect God creation.  But in this passage it was used to keep a man oppressed when he could be healed.

In reflection, let's consider how we can embody compassion and courage in our daily lives, following the example of Jesus. May we recognize our own calling as chosen and commissioned disciples, in accordance with Mark 3:13-19.  So that we may faithfully serve God's kingdom with love and boldness, just as those first twelve did so long ago.

Just to note.  We don’t always have to be perfect to be considered a disciple of Jesus. Judas betrayed Jesus and is still listed as a disciple in every gospel.


  1. Where do you struggle to show compassion?

  2. What rules do you see that seem to have lost their why?

  3. Can you think of a time they you have been offered compassion, even though you didn’t deserve it or a time that you have offered compassion to someone society would say didn’t deserve it?


Dear God, thank you for your loving compassion even in the face of opposition and societal norms. Thank you for calling disciples who continued to spread the love of God all the way to me.  Teach me to be more compassionate to those in need, even when it goes against what the world tells me the rules are.  Thank you for taking a chance on me. Amen.

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