As soon as Jesus walked into the synagogue one Sabbath, He saw a man with a withered hand, but everyone else saw Jesus. According to Mark 3:1-6, the religious leaders were looking for Him to make trouble, so that’s what they saw – a Man Who would most likely cause a commotion by healing someone on the Sabbath.
Obviously, the Pharisees were looking for Jesus to challenge them. They might have even set up the incident by grabbing some guy with a withered hand off the street and setting him front and center in the synagogue. Who knows? But one thing we know from today’s Gospel reading is this:
Even the most religiously-minded people can have narrow thinking confined to a small understanding of God’s Word.
With their discernment withering, the Pharisees just couldn’t get a handle on how to stretch themselves, spiritually. So Jesus began His healing on the Sabbath by trying to heal them! As Mark 3:4 tells us, He asked this probing question:
“Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath or evil? Is this a day to heal or to kill??
How did the Pharisees answer? They didn’t. They said nothing. They withered into silence.
Jesus responded with grief! Yet despite His own sorrow over seeing such hardheartedness, He didn’t get caught up in that disappointing moment. In stead, He turned His attention to the man with the shrunken hand and said:
“Stretch out your hand.”
The man did not say, “Are you blind? Can’t you see my hand has shriveled?” nor did he say, “But, I can’t stretch out my hand!” In stead, he did the impossible. He stretched out his hand.
That’s faith in our Lord Jesus.
That’s faith in The Word meaning what The Word says.
Prayer: O, Lord God, help our belief in You to stretch as we read Your Word and remain ever open to Your healing power in the Name of Jesus. Amen.
by Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2016