Jesus responds with this from Matthew 12:11-12, “But He said to them, ‘What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable then is a person than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
This question was not mere speculation. Pits were commonly dug as traps for predators, to protect livestock. Sometimes, though, sheep would fall into the pits by accident, perhaps hurting themselves. While some Pharisees would have forbidden the rescue of an animal on the Sabbath, most would not have made this a restriction. Further, most people would act in mercy for the animal instead of leaving it in the pit to suffer.
The point Jesus is leading to is one He has made before in Matthew: How much more valuable are people than animals? If God provides for the birds, He will surely provide for you, because you are far more valuable to Him (Matthew 6:26). If God knows when each sparrow falls, He will surely know when you die because you are more valuable than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29–31).
Jesus’ response makes two important points. First, if it’s right to show mercy to an animal, how could it be wrong to show mercy to a person? Second, it’s clear that God’s command about not working on the Sabbath is not aimed at situations like a trapped animal, or some other disaster. Neither is it meant to stop people from doing good.
We are never meant to be stopped from doing good. It’s such a basic point yet one that needs repeating. Over and over again. Our cause here, our purpose is to be doing good, just as Jesus did good. It’s not to instigate arguments and quarrels. It’s not to hurt others either with words or physically. It’s to do good.
How are you doing good today?