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One Reply to “Healing of a man’s shriveled hand on the Sabbath”
All three Synoptic Gospels include the account of the man with a shriveled hand being healed on the Sabbath. Matthew includes a short parable as part of the teaching, perhaps hoping with a practical example the Pharisees might understand the possibility that healing on the Sabbath was not a sin. Jesus concludes at the end of the parable, “Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:12b).
In Mark 3:5, we read words that attempt to express what Jesus was feeling, “He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts…” It’s interesting to note words of emotion that are used to describe Jesus–he was truly God and truly human at the same time. Angry and distress, Jesus uses words to convict the self-righteous and heals a man who doesn’t appear to have asked for anything (though he’s obviously not trying to get away).
Luke adds one detail that is interesting, this was the man’s right hand that was shriveled. Having visited that part of the world in the past, the right hand has significance, it is considered the dominant hand. Without the use of the right hand, I suspect the man was considered less than those around him, though no detail of this is provided, just a thought. Perhaps this is why Jesus chose the man (there’s no indication that the man asked Jesus to heal him).
Think about this: What if the man went to the Synagogue just to learn from Jesus, this great teacher who had done marvelous works in the area? What if he wasn’t there for his crippled physical condition, but rather his spiritual condition? This provides a perfect example for Jesus to demonstrate to those leaders at that time as well as for us today. This man is sitting there to hear the words of Jesus, to learn from his incredible teaching. Jesus calls him out, has him stand in front of those gathered and heals him without a word. That day the man learned much from Jesus. Those who were watching learned as well, though some saw evil, some saw good.
Mark includes a verse which shows collusion between the Pharisees and the Herodians, supporters of Rome. Even at this early stage it appears the Jewish leaders knew they might need the authority of Rome to kill Jesus. All three accounts reveal the Jewish leaders were extremely upset about Jesus breaking the law of the Sabbath. They had no doubt Jesus could heal people, this they couldn’t refute, but now he had the audacity to heal on the Sabbath, though it’s apparent that didn’t really require any work. The legalistic leaders would have difficulty prosecuting him on the grounds that he did work on the Sabbath because there was no healing ointments or dressing applied, no physical labor needed.
Jesus continues to invite us today, without legal requirements or checklists to complete. Perhaps this rather simple journey to accept Christ is just too easy for the intellectual crowd or enlightened people we bear witness to in our land these days.