Now it happened on another Sabbath, also, that He entered the synagogue and taught. And a man was there whose right hand was withered. So the scribes and Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath, that they might find an accusation against Him. But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, “Arise and stand here.” And he arose and stood. Then Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one thing: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy?” And when He had looked around at them all, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. But they were filled with rage, and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus. (Luke 6:6-11)
Blinded By The Sabbath
The Law of Moses was very specific in describing the holiness of the Sabbath day. Included in the Ten Commandments, the seventh day of the week was a time set aside by the Lord commanding the Jews to observe with strict adherence. In the early days of Israel a man was put to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath. The Law clearly stated the purpose of Sabbath and requirements of keeping the Sabbath as a holy day set apart for the Lord. In the time of Jesus, the Jewish leaders had taken the purpose of the Sabbath and imposed their own interpretation of the Law upon the people. The Sabbath had become so intense in their minds to observe they could not see the power of God when Jesus performed a miracle.
Jesus was in a synagogue teaching when a remarkable thing happened. It was a Sabbath day and a man was there whose right hand was withered. The condition of the hand was shriveled or dried up and Luke makes special note it was his right hand. This could well be a birth defect or a malady that caused the hand to wither. What is clear is the man’s condition was visible to all who saw him. More astonishing is the attitudes of the scribes and Pharisees toward Jesus and whether He would heal the man on the Sabbath. The enemies of Jesus never denied His miracles. In this story, the arrogance of the religious leaders is expecting Jesus to perform a miracle to accuse Him because he profaned the Sabbath. Their hypocritical view of the Law had blinded their hearts to see what was clearly manifested before them. How can you find an accusation against a man who heals another man with a withered hand? They watched as the dried up limb became whole again and this made them angry plotting to destroy Jesus. The Sabbath had blinded their hearts to the power of God.
God never intended for His law to blind men to His power. The purpose of God’s law is to show man His will with the expectation that man would obey that law. Obedience has always been required for man to follow and without obedience man could not be saved. The tragedy of man’s interpretation of law is to become like the scribes and Pharisees viewing the law only as a system of regulations that must be kept without seeing the power of God’s grace in redeeming man. Sin is a transgression of the law of God and man will be held accountable for sin. The problem lies in the reality that sin plagues the life of the child of God because Satan is trying to destroy the spirit of the man. For the Christian, there is a war going on between the flesh and the spirit. All of God’s children struggle with sin. What must be remembered is that while sin will always challenge the life of a Christian, the grace of God is a powerful presence for the child of God to know that eternal life is assured with the confidence of hope. One of the devil’s tools against the Christian is to convince them there is little hope they will be saved because they sin. Like the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day, the Sabbath is more important than the miracle. The love, grace and mercy of the Father is an overwhelming acknowledgement that while we battle with sin, salvation is assured through the promise of a God who knows the frame of man is only dust.
It is easy to become like the scribes and Pharisees who viewed the law with such distinction they could not see the miracles of Jesus as testimony to who He was. We can become so intent on keeping every part of the law that we fail to see the power of God working the miracle of His grace in our lives. Full obedience is necessary and of this there is no doubt. Let us not cast out the love of the Father for His children in being keepers of the law without knowing the power of His healing and His mercy giving us a blessed assurance that we are saved. Eternal life is not a chance happening for a lucky few. It is a promise of hope that we can know we have salvation. The miracle of healing our withered lives is the evidence that God loves us without measure. What a wonderful Father we serve.