Jesus is not Play-Doh but that doesn’t stop us from treating him like it. We attempt to push and squish him into a mold that we can be comfortable with. This is nothing new, it has been going on since his earthly ministry started.

Jesus was born into an established religious system of rules and regulations. The religious leaders of the day challenge Jesus and his disciples, because Jesus doesn’t fit their mold of what the messiah is supposed to look and sound like. Jesus and the disciples were not living according to the later additions to the law of God by the Pharisees and teachers of the law. In one instance the disciples took some grain on the Sabbath and in the other Jesus healed on the Sabbath, both acts strictly forbidden. The leaders are so concerned that Sabbath regulations be observed, they are not concerned about the hungry or the sick. This is an incredible example of missing the forest for the trees.

In every major world religion (except Christianity) the purpose of obeying the law is to assure you that you’re all right with God. As a result, when you come to the law, what you’re most concerned about is detail. You want to know exactly what you’ve got to do, because you have to push all the right buttons. You won’t gravitate toward seeking out the intent of the law; rather, you’ll tend to write into the law all sorts of details of observance so you can assure yourself that you’re obeying it and you are “in” with God.

But in the life of Christians, the law of God (though still binding on them) functions in a completely different way. It shows you the life of love you want to live before the God who has done it all for you. Instead of seeing the Sabbath as a bunch of laws to follow we see it exactly as it was intended; restoring the diminished, replenishing the drained, repairing the broken. When Jesus healed the man’s shriveled hand he was doing exactly what the Sabbath was all about and wasn’t concerned about fitting into anyone’s mold.

Have you ever used Jesus as Play-doh to fit him into some image you had for him? What were you trying to make him look like? How different did he look from the Jesus presented in the Gospel accounts? In what ways do you see other people molding Jesus in their own image? How harmful do you think this can be to the Christian faith?

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