Monday, February 28, 2011

The Man with the Withered Hand

This morning I was reading in Luke 6. I have been going through the gospels one chapter a day, trying to go slow and actually dig into what it is saying. This morning I was struck by the story of the man with the withered hand. Jesus goes into the synagogue to teach on the Sabbath.
Right away, a verse that stuck out to me was verse 7. It says this, "And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him." Lots of people watched and observed Jesus. Most of them watched and followed Jesus because they were blown away by his teaching, his healing power, and his compassion for people. But I couldn't help but notice the reason the Pharisees were watching Jesus: to find a reason to accuse him. The Pharisees had completely missed the point of watching and following Jesus. They had hardened their hearts and couldn't see the awesomeness of who Jesus was. This can be seen in how they responded to the miracle.
Jesus calls us this man who had a withered hand. I can't imagine what that looked like or what kind of disease would do that to a person but his hand was messed up. The Pharisees wanted to accuse Jesus of working on the Sabbath so I love how Jesus heals this guy: "And after looking around at them all he said to him, 'Stretch out your hand.' And he did so, and his hand was restored." (vs. 10)
Jesus didn't break the Sabbath here. Speaking a word was not breaking the Sabbath and neither was stretching out your hand! So Jesus healed this man without giving the Pharisees any reason to accuse him! I love it! But the sad thing is the Pharisees reaction to the miracle. It says they were filled with fury and discussed what they were going to do to Jesus.
Sometimes I wonder if any of the Pharisees came to their senses and realized who Jesus truly was. We know of one, named Nicodemus, who had questioned Jesus but actually brought myrhh and helped take away Jesus' body. But were there others? I hope so. And even today, are there modern day Pharisees who are missing the point of Jesus' coming by making Christianity about rules and regulations? Are they watching people to accuse them instead of lifting them up. Stuff to think about.

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