Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Withered Hand Enters into Sabbath Rest

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
Mark 3:1-6
It is clear from verses three to five that Jesus knew healing this man on the Sabbath would displease the Pharisees. Indeed, in the full council of Scripture it appears that their frustration with Jesus’ breach of their understanding of Sabbath rest was one of the major contributing factors to his crucifixion. The pragmatist might say “Jesus should wait a day. He can still heal the man tomorrow without causing dissension.” But Jesus does not wait. Jesus does the right thing even when he knows it will be unpopular. This is hard to do. The Book of Proverbs says, "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act" (Proverbs 3:27). So too with us, when we know what the right thing to do is, we ought to do it immediately. For Scripture also says, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them” (James 4:17).
Look at the faith of the man who is to be healed. Jesus calls him up in front of the whole synagogue and asks him to stretch out his hand. Scripture records no hesitation. The man extended in full view of all those present that most loathsome part of himself which he probably worked hard to keep hidden his whole life. What faith! This man must have had faith that Jesus had good things in store him…that his weakness would not be exposed for no reason. So too with us, it takes faith to expose our sin before God and others. It takes faith to acknowledge that we need salvation, but there is no other path to healing or salvation than this reaching out in faith.
How fitting it is that this man’s hand should be healed on the Sabbath. This man’s hand had been bound by the marring effects of sin for we do not know how many years. What better day than the Sabbath for his hand to enter into the Sabbath rest of God. Are you bound by sin? Turn to the Lord for salvation today. Jesus is still setting captives free no matter what day it is. Scripture says, “Today is the day of salvation" (II Corinthians 6:2). But even Christians continue to struggle to live out the freedom we have received in Christ. If you have allowed some part of your life to slip back under the crippling control of sin, do not hesitate. Extend that part of your life to Jesus even now for healing. Jesus may not solve all your problems. (Surely, this man’s only trouble in life wasn’t his hand!) Yet, in His goodness He may give you a little taste of the kingdom of God (that is heaven). For this man that meant a restored hand. For you it may mean a restored marriage or relationship with your child. It could mean a restored desire to know Him. Reach out in faith today. Extend those parts of yourself that are bound up by sin to Him and receive healing. And remember that His grace is always sufficient to help us bear those burdens which He does not take away. (II Corinthians 12:1-10).
For further reading…
  • II Corinthians 12:1-10- In His sovereignty, the Lord doesn't always tell us why He chooses to leave us with some burdens, but we choose to trust Him.
  • Ephesians 5:21-33- A little help for Christian marriages. Remember your marriage and your happiness aren't the end goals. Marriage is a training ground for glory. It is a symbol or picture of our relationship with God in Christ.

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