Have you ever seen the “Lion King” stage show? For many years now it has run on Broadway, and the traveling version has toured the world many times over, including a trip to OKC a few years ago. That is where Kimberly and I saw the production. It is an amazing show, filled with great music, story, and dancing. Each character is part puppet/part person, bringing the African Savanna to life on stage. One of my favorite scenes of this play is the opening number. The show begins with all the animals of the Pridelands gathering around the rock to see the presentation of the King’s new son. This royal procession is recreated by having larger than life “animals” proceed down the aisles of the auditorium before finding their place on stage. This awe-inspiring moment requires that all audience members be in their seats about 5 minutes before the start of the show. If you get there after that point, you have to wait until the first scene has concluded to find your seat.
Now, imagine that you had tickets to a special showing of “Lion King” on Friday night at 7 PM. You have one primary objective: get inside the theater by 6:55. However, instead of proactively making decisions to accomplish this plan, let’s imagine that you don’t leave your house in Norman (25 miles away) until 15 minutes before the start of the show. Imagine that you walk up to the ticket takers in the hallways of the theater at 7:05 and try to talk your way to the inside. To make your case, you tell the person in charge all of the things you didn’t do:
- You didn’t exceed the speed limit on your drive there.
- You didn’t illegally park outside the auditorium.
- You didn’t steal your ticket to the show (you paid for it fair and square).
- You didn’t cut in line at the concession stand.
Despite your best description of all you didn’t do, you are still denied admission to the show. The reason is simple. Though you DIDN’T make certain mistakes, you failed to DO the one thing you had to do to enter the show. Therefore, you missed seeing the awesome opening act.
I was thinking of this hypothetical today as I read Luke 14:1-6, an account of Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath:
One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away. And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” And they could not reply to these things.
It is highly possible that the Pharisee who hosted Jesus in his home for dinner, invited the sick man and Jesus to eat on the Sabbath day at his house in order to trap Jesus into violating the Law. Work on the Sabbath was forbidden, and the Pharisees were the “spiritual police” who prided themselves on what they DIDN’T do on the Sabbath. Jesus’s pattern of healing on this day infuriated them, and on this particular occasion, they thought they could make Jesus look foolish by tempting Him to heal on a Saturday (something their traditions forbid).
Jesus answer is classic. He asks them what they would do. They give no verbal answer, so Jesus shows them what they should do . . . He heals the man of his illness. Jesus was not violating the law on this occasion, as the OT Law made provision for helping someone or something in need on the Sabbath (something Jesus reminded them of after working the miracle). The Pharisees were so concerned about what they DIDN’T do, that they missed the very thing they should want TO DO, and that is to show compassion on someone in need. Because of that, they found themselves in the hallway, while the King’s party was happening inside the door.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we too have a tendency to focus more on the “don’t” than the “do.” Think of how evangelical Christians are often understood in our culture. We are against this or that. While there are legitimate things that we are to avoid or be against, there is also much that we are to DO. Jesus says that people will know that we are His followers by our love for one another. It is my prayer that I am known for the love I show to others, not the things I refrain from.
At Christmas time, we can get focused on what we don’t do. I don’t know what your family’s don’ts are, but I am sure you have them. Maybe you don’t include Santa Claus, you don’t put an elf on the shelf, you don’t overindulge the material side of the holiday, or you don’t say “Happy Holidays” (we say “Merry Christmas!”). These stands are not bad and if you have made these choices, you probably have great conviction about it. That’s not a bad thing! But, don’t lead your family this holiday just in terms of the don’ts. Also focus on the do’s. Do help those in need. Do spend time with those you love. Do study God’s Word together as a family. Do worship Him.
After all, you want to be in the aisle in front of the King standing on the Rock when the curtain rises, not stuck in the hallway with only a list of don’ts to keep you company.