Have you ever done something for so often or so long that it becomes about something else entirely?

When we first read of God giving the Law to God’s people (the Israelites), it’s in the second book of the Bible, an estimated 1,500 years before Jesus was born. By the time we reach the time of Matthew 12, generations of God’s people had tried and failed to follow the hundreds of laws in Exodus and the subsequent instructions given in Deuteronomy. While it was meant to create human flourishing within the context of their day and age, as well as demonstrate that none of us are perfect, we as humans inserted our own brokenness into the mix:

We made the law into a measuring stick by which we elevated our status. We used it as a weapon to attack and judge and punish others. Instead of viewing the law as being about us and God, we made it all about ourselves.

This context is important because as you read through the various stories in Matthew 12, you see Jesus do a lot of different things. These miracles, teachings, and different situations are all united by a common thread. As Jesus does these incredible, life-giving examples of what it looks like to truly embody God’s desire for us, the religious elite grumble about it.

But why? Why would anyone take any issue with people being healed? Who would take issue with feeding thousands, or telling those who were never received by the religious elite that they were loved by God?

Simply put, such a pronouncement of inclusion threatened the very status that they had worked to achieve. If people no longer had to abide by the rules that the religious elite lorded over them (pun very much intended), then they no longer had power over anyone.

Intellectually we understand that the Pharisees were wrong. We know that they were the “antagonist,” and Jesus is the “hero” of the story. But when we take a moment to be honest, we are much more like the Pharisees than anything else.

“What??,” you might wonder. “I’m not judgmental! I would never oppress people like they did,” you say. But while it might look different, we all have made our faith about ourselves more than about God. We have all lauded our individual achievements instead of showing gratitude for the people and circumstances God placed in our lives to help. We have gossiped about and judged others’ misdeeds simply because it made us feel better about ourselves.

As we look ahead toward the rest of 2023, many of our resolutions are actually about something else:

  • “I want to get fit so I can look like them.”
  • “I want to make money so I can impress people with all of my stuff.” 
  • “I want to find my person so I know that I’m loved.”

Instead of doing this, which is really about that, how can we resolve to make the all-inclusive truth of God’s love the main thing for us this year?