And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?
I will forgive anyone who thinks that I might have picked that verse just to be obtuse. Just remember, I don't have to work at all to be obtuse. It comes real natural-like.
15:32 And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day.
15:33 And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.
15:34 And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him.
15:35 And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.
15:36 And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.
Focus on the words, "And the Lord said..."
Dude was picking up sticks! He was not hurting children, or stealing from widows, or worshipping other gods. He was going to build a fire for someone he loved.
And it was not some legalistic Pharisee who interpreted God's law so harshly. "And the Lord said..."
God had said,
20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
20:10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
20:11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
God meant it.
The sabbath was an expression of deep meaning, and deep symbolism. God would not allow His sabbath to be corrupted. The life of a man was forfeit for trying that command.
I harass the Jews for erecting hedge laws around the sabbath, for example codifying the number of miles that a man could walk on the sabbath without sinning against the day of rest. But could I have read about a man stoned until dead for picking up firewood, and not needed hedge laws? How many hedge laws did I erect even after Christ's Blood cleansed me? How far away and how frightening was God even after His Grace was shed abroad to all, even me?
The Jews learned every law, and kept them wholly.
And Jesus would have none of it.
Jesus got in their faces to heal on the sabbath. He went out of His way to do something bigger than picking up sticks before their very eyes. He violated the sabbath before them - but He did not violate God's law.
12:11 And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out ?
12:12 How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.
It is lawful to do well, even on the sabbath.
Let me be more clear.
It is lawful to violate the sabbath to do well.
A man was picking up sticks, and he was killed on God's own command. But, Jesus declares it divinely righteous to pick up a sheep, a donkey or even an ox on the sabbath. An ox weighs a lot more than a stick. Getting an ox out of a hole can be a whole day's work, and nothing restful about it.
Yet, Jesus doesn't even blink.
The sabbath is one of the 10 commandments. It was engraved on stone. But, Jesus places acts of love for animals above it. How much more so love for people?
How far below "love" is "law?"
I don't know, but may no law ever keep me from pulling a brother out of a pit.
(Said as a brother who knows what the bottom of a pit looks like....)