Jesus certainly managed to upset the religious authorities. Here he is again, taking action on the Sabbath to heal a woman. And this time it’s even more public – he is in the synagogue where he breaks off from teaching to reach out to this woman. The indignance of the synagogue leader is heard loud and clear, but so is Jesus’ response: ‘You hypocrite! Don’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to water?’.
Jesus is challenging the very nature of their religion – is it one that brings life and healing and allows people to be freed from the things that have tied them? The answer is sadly not – they have become rule bound and forgotten the life that should reflect their faith in God.
I wonder what rules and regulations we have created that means our generosity has become tethered and needs to be unleashed. Perhaps we are not even aware of them, but they shape our behaviour and responses.
One thing that sometimes holds us back is the feeling that our small contribution can’t possibly make a difference. When there is such need and so many people in a better position to be able to contribute, what can my small offering mean? And that sadly becomes our default position. But look at what Jesus says in the next few verses – ‘What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed…’. That tiny seed that someone plants becomes one of the largest trees offering shelter and life for the birds of the air.
We can find so many reasons why we shouldn’t be generous, but look at the difference it makes when we play our part, no matter how small we may feel that is, and join with God’s people in bringing life and hope to those around us.