Today we take a look at Mark 3:1-6. This is entitled The Man with a Withered Hand
The Man with a Withered Hand
3 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2 They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” 4 Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
We see Jesus heal a man on the Sabbath. Remember, this is after His teaching on the Sabbath and religion, religion is a good thing, but it doesn’t save. Only Jesus saves. The text here says that people were watching to see if He would heal, not to celebrate that someone was healed, but so that they may accuse Him.
Also, notice in verse 5, Jesus gets angry. Did you expect to see that? Two things. First, being “angry” is not a sin. If getting angry was a sin, then Jesus just sinned, and we know that Jesus didn’t sin. So, there are times in our lives when are going to get angry.
So, here’s the second thing, and a question. What is it that makes us angry? Why are we angry. For Jesus, it is when people are harmed or abused. When people are harmed or abused, we should be angry. We should be angry at sin. At things that are destructive. We should be angry when children and families are endangered. We should be angry at things that destroy. But never act out of vengeance. Be angry, but do not sin.
I want to unpack for you why the Pharisees were so against Jesus healing on the Sabbath and seemed to be a constant trouble to Jesus. Believe it or not, they meant well. They were trying to do what they thought was wrong, but man oh man, did they miss it.
To understand this, we’ve got to go back in the Old Testament. We see in Genesis 12, God called Abraham. And we see what God promises him. A land and a people (and that he will be a blessing to all the earth).
As we move forward through the Old Testament, in the Law and the Covenant, we see this Word over and over again to the people. If you keep the covenant, you keep the land. If don’t, you will lose it. And that’s what happened. The people didn’t keep the law, and ultimately the nation of Israel divided to the northern kingdom Israel (which was destroyed by Assyria) and the southern kingdom Judah (which was destroyed by Babylon).
Babylon took from Jerusalem the young, the brightest, the smartest, and brought them to Babylon with the intent of making them Babylonian. That’s where the book of Daniel happened, it’s where Ezekiel wrote his prophecy, Psalm 137 was written then, and then Ezra and Nehemiah chronicles the process of restoration after the Babylonian exile.
What happened during the exile was a group of religious leaders rose up and said this (I’m paraphrasing). Ok, y’all, last time we were home, we didn’t keep the law. And look what happened. We lost everything. So, when we get back, we are going to keep the law. We are going to keep our promises to God. And we will make sure the do it right. That’s where the Pharisees came from.
And you know what? What they wanted to do was a good thing. They wanted the people to keep their promises. They wanted people to keep the law. They wanted people to be true. But they guided by fear. They were afraid of what would happen when people broke the law.
So, we see Jesus heal on the Sabbath, which they considered work. And the law is clear. Do not work on the Sabbath (by the way, they had built extra laws that would define what “work” was, how far you could walk, things such as that). So instead of celebration that someone was healed, they would say YOU BROKE THE SABBATH! REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME WE DID THIS! YOU CAN’T DO THAT!
Their intent started off good. But what happened was this. They mistook the law for God. The focused more on their man-made laws than they did the revelation of God – Jesus Christ – standing in front of them.
They were guided by fear. And that’s a dangerous, dangerous thing. They were actually trying (in their own way) to honor God. But they missed the point.
And that can be a reminder to us today that truly want to worship God and honor Him. Let’s keep the main thing the main thing. Let’s focus on following Jesus. And let’s do all that we can do to bring glory to His name.
Monday we’ll look at Mark 3:7-11.
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