9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” 11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.
The Pharisee’s are out to trip Jesus up. They are trying to catch him doing or saying something ‘inexcusable’. Any mistake that Jesus might make, they want to use to tear him down. They are so hell-bent on getting at Jesus they are missing the forest for the trees. Jesus is saying and doing everything they could have hoped for: Miracles in their day, good news for all people, the enthusiastic crowds that follow Jesus are proclaiming God’s goodness. The very fundamental purpose of Sabbath ‘Sunday’ is demonstrated in front of the Pharisee’s with a miraculous healing and they prefer to quarrel and fume. Can’t they just be happy for the bloke whose hand is healed?
I’m reminded that this is an illustration of God’s fundamental attitude towards us: to heal, to restore, to show his love. The opposite of this attitude, being a Grinch over the technicalities, is tempting territory for most people. It is so easy to want to seek power through re-enforcing rules, quibbling over definitions, protecting laws and leveraging hierarchies. eg. “That man with the deformed hand is out of line! This isn’t right. Something is wrong, he’s unclean!”
Jesus. The story of you is often so direct on the pages of the Bible. “The man was healed by Jesus, let’s celebrate!” But still this message was lost on certain people. Jesus, I don’t want to be ‘certain people’ – I want to be your disciple and celebrate your love, your ways and your plan with you. Amen.
Written by Sam Stewart