Tuesday is for Thinking

Withered hands 1It was a Sabbath day like no other. Jesus and the Pharisees were about to go head to head over His healing ministry.

High drama on a Sabbath.

And compassion for a man in pain was the battlefield.

And he said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” 

6 On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7 And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. 8 But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. 9 And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” 10 And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. 11 But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus. 

What a scene. Jesus is doing the predictable thing based on all the reports of his ministry thus far. He goes to the Synagogue on a Sabbath. There are two things that can be counted on: he will proclaim good news and he will bring healing to some.

The Pharisees know this. Every one in the synagogue knows this. It’s why most of them are there.

A man with a withered hand is there. Perhaps a plant by the Pharisees, someone to tempt him to use his power to heal. They are uninterested in the man. He is just a tool, a weapon to wield against Jesus, the object of their fear and loathing.

Withered hand 2But Jesus knows their thoughts (vs. 8). He’s about to turn the tables.

“Come here,” he says to the man, “and stand here.”

Now he, his name lost to all but God, is standing next to One who has all eyes fixed upon him. His withered hand hangs useless and malformed at his side or perhaps it is curled up into a kind of human claw proclaiming his malady to everyone.

Jesus turns to the eyes that are waiting for him to speak. He asks one question and then slowly surveys the room as the question hangs in the air.

“… is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?”

Every eye on him; his words echoing; they watch him turn to the nameless man. Heaven is about to invade the earth.

“Stretch out your hand.” 

And as he simply obeys the command of Christ, his hand is restored!

Can you imagine the joy of the man? The awe of the crowd? The thoughts of “what does this all mean” that are racing through the minds of those who see the transformation?!

But for me, the most stunning response is verse 11.

“But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another
what they might do to Jesus.”

Withered hands (leprosy)A man with a withered hand has his hand restored and they are filled with fury!

No awe.

No joy.

No rejoicing.

No wonder.

No celebration.

No congratulations.

No shouting the news.

Their response is fury and plotting, envy and fear. The hardness of their hearts had turned a man into tool, a weapon to be used against Jesus.

I wonder how often we miss the greatness of what God is doing because our hearts are hard to the truth that cuts across and against the grain of what we want God to do?

I sometimes wonder how different are we from the Pharisees?

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