And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.” Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him. (Mark 3:1-6)
Kill The Healer
Suffering has been the curse of man since Adam and Eve were removed from the garden. Illness, disease, disfiguration, blindness and death have scourged the earth with its deadly tentacles with little relief. Cemeteries are filled with lives cut short because of sickness. Myriads of people live a daily struggle with maladies that cripple, maim and bring misery to life. Enter a physician that can cure any physical ailment of man. This man does not just heal little things He conquers the incurable. Those who have been lame all their life can now walk. The blind receive their sight and every disease inflicted upon a community is wiped away by the work of one man.
In an unknown town a family rejoices in the birth of their son. With great expectations a father reaches down to pick up his newborn son. But something is wrong. To his horror he looks upon a son who was born with a withered hand. Deformed. Maimed. A plague on a society that seldom accepts deformity. This child’s life will be filled with cruelty as children mock and laugh at this boy with a withered hand. Growing into adulthood he has learned the painful lessons of man’s prejudice.
The Sabbath has come and as he has always done the man with a withered hand makes his way to the synagogue. He mingles through the crowd excited about the arrival of a noted Teacher and Rabbi. Eyes seem to fall upon him for reasons he does not understand. The man from Nazareth is in the center of the synagogue and calls for the man to come to Him. He steps forward not understanding why he has become the center of attention. Jesus first looks at the crowd asking them if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath. Silence. The man notices the disposition of Jesus fills with anger. Turning back to the unknown man Jesus utters words this man will never forget. It was not a big deal with a lot of fanfare but four simple words: “Stretch out your hand.” In the millisecond of a lifetime of memory the man knows he has never been able to do anything with this hand. Yet in faith he does the impossible and stretches out his hand. To his astonished joy he watches his hand become a real hand. He feels the soothing relief of a whole hand with five beautiful fingers emerge from that withered stump of flesh. The shame of disfigurement has been taken away. His heart is so filled with joy it almost burst.
The healed man does not notice the crowd of men that immediately walk out the door. Many gathered around the man joyous of the occasion of a powerful miracle. They had seen this man daily with a hand withered and disfigured but they had watched with their own eyes a hand become whole. Nothing like this had ever happened before this Teacher had come into their city. How great God was. No one could doubt the power of the Lord that day.
Another miracle happened that day. The miracle of envy and hatred. In a negative connotation a miracle took place in the hearts of the Pharisees because they saw the same power as everyone else but contrary to the belief the healing was an act of God they saw it as an affront to their religious zeal. Plotting with the Herodians these religious leaders plan to destroy the Man who could heal any disease. Jesus could raise the dead and they wanted to kill Him. He could walk on water and they wanted to drown Him. The creation plotted to destroy their Creator.
Jesus was angered and grieved in His heart because He knew what He was going to do and He knew what they were going to do. He could have called twelve legions of angels at that moment but instead He called on the Finger of God to show His power and heal an unknown man with a withered hand. This man was a nobody and Jesus healed him to the dismay of those men who thought themselves to be something.
The Pharisees would succeed in killing Jesus. And then it dawned on the first day of the week and the tomb was found empty. This would be the greatest miracle man had ever seen. Remarkably there are still people walking out the door trying to destroy Jesus. But another day is coming. That will be most remarkable day of all.
Had it not been for the miracles, there would have been no sin in not believing in Jesus Christ. (Blaise Pascal, Pensees, 1670)