On your Mark
Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a
shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse
Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath.
(Mark 3:1,2, NIV)
Whenever Jesus shows up, things happen.
The previous time He was in the synagogue (1:21-28), a
demon-possessed man confronted Him. Part of Jesus’ synagogue ministry in
general involved the driving out of demons (1:39).
This raises the question as to how many seriously disturbed
people attend houses of worship but remain unchanged. Why? Could it be that we
go through the motions of worship, but have not invited the living presence of
Jesus into the house?
As Mark 3 begins, we see Jesus again in the synagogue
— but this time the action is different. He previously healed in Simon’s
home (1:29), the street (1:33), out in the open (1:40) and at home in Capernaum
(2:1). Now, His healing power is released in the synagogue for the man with a
I wonder how many people who love Jesus today come regularly
at the appointed time for worship — but something in their life has
Perhaps you have never had a shriveled hand, but instead
have had shriveled emotions, shriveled ambitions, shriveled longings, shriveled
relationships. Your reach in life is not as far as you wanted it to go. You
want to put out your hand toward a goal, but can’t.
Unlike the leper or one who has cancer, you are not on the
verge of dying. You are not possessed by evil spirits who force you to act on
uncontrollable urges. You are just not all that you could be.
The good news is that the Lord stretches out His hand to
your shriveled life. His power makes you whole — so reach out your hand
But Jesus had His critics. They didn’t like it that He
healed on the Sabbath. Even Jesus could not and would not make everyone happy.
Criticism feeds criticism. Once you start being judgmental
and negative, you’ll feed on that. That’s so with the negative people around
Jesus. They can’t see the good, because they are too much caught up with the
fact He’s not doing everything the way they would do it. So, they are now
watching Him “closely.”
The criticism against Jesus repeatedly lay with “the
teachers of the law” (Mark 2:7,16,18,23). That’s the problem. They gained their
title through years of schooling and proven ability to master the minutiae of
religious regulations. However, they missed something better than the title,
“teachers of the law.” Never are they called teachers of grace!
When we practice and teach grace rather than law we don’t
have time to sit around and pick at every nit and thistle. Grace reaches out to
help. Legalism can only judge.
Those who are shriveled in life can only be helped by grace.
In Jesus, the grace of God reaches out to take our hand and restore us to
fullness of life.
A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, show me my own blind spots about being
judgmental. Help me not to postpone to a more convenient time any act of mercy
or care. Your critics did not realize that in being critical they were working
on the Sabbath far harder than You. Healing and giving
grace is a far less laborious task than being critical. Help me to be full of
grace and not full of legalism.
GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies
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