Daily Reading and Devotional from the Gospels
1 And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. 2 And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. 3 And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. 4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. 5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. 6 And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.
7 But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judaea, 8 And from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him. 9 And he spake to his disciples, that a small ship should wait on him because of the multitude, lest they should throng him. 10 For he had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues. 11 And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God. 12 And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known.
That poor man had lost the use of his hand. I read that some non biblical sources say he was a mason and had lost the use of his hands that had worked in stone and mortar. I had read that his hand was crushed, that hand that he had skillfully used to make his living and provide for his family was useless. I can’t say that is true beyond any doubt but I can imagine how difficult life would be without the use of a hand no matter the profession. I have known some who lived and worked without use of a limb and I admire them greatly but certainly wish I had the ability to help them. I am amazed that in this story the supposed religious crowd could care less about this man and his hand. They knew that he was in the congregation that day, they knew he was hurting and they could care less. They were watching to see what Jesus would do. Would Jesus break their Sabbath rules by helping this man? If Jesus helps him and breaks their idea of rest then that would confirm their suspicions about him. They would know that he did not care about their law. This was basically a trap. They knew Jesus could heal and they knew he would have compassion and so they watched to see if he would take the bait. Isn’t it odd that those enemies of Jesus knew he had capability to heal and that he cared and we who are his friends and family forget? My Jesus can! My Jesus cares! Perhaps we have not, because we ask not. Perhaps we lack the confidence to believe that he really can change things for us. If he can and doesn’t, don’t worry, we still know that he cares! Since we have confidence that he cares, we can know that he must have a better plan. I am afraid those enemies of Jesus had more confidence in him than we do. The Scriptures say their attitude concerning the disabled man made our Lord angry. No wonder, a religion that would outlaw helping a hurting person doesn’t seem very Godly does it? Even today, in our churches, I have known critics who find fault with people who associate with hurting people and try to help them. Jesus did heal the man that day. He restored his hand and in doing good began their plotting against him that would culminate with the cross. Perhaps our lesson today is to make sure our beliefs are growing our hearts and not just our heads. Maybe the lesson is that we should have confidence that our our Lord can and that our Lord cares about us and others. Could it be that we should imitate our Lord and do the right thing no matter the cost? Perhaps all of those lessons should be learned and put into practice today. Amen? Maybe you have another lesson? I would love to hear it.