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On your Mark


Never a time not to do good

Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. (Mark 3:3,4, NIV)

Picture the scene.

People jam the synagogue all through the main floor, the tier U-shaped seating all around, and the balcony in back. Jesus holds center stage.

They expect Him to teach. His disciples, seated in front, may have thought He would elaborate on His earlier message in the Nazareth synagogue where He had proclaimed, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me” (Luke 4:16-21).

But Jesus spots the legalists in the crowd whose angry stares dare Him to violate the Sabbath by healing.

So Jesus lays aside what He might have intended to say and instead picks out a man from the audience who has a shriveled hand. He tells him, “Stand up in front.”

This is a rather odd request. What disfigured person wants to be singled out? If you feel you’re already different, you don’t want to be made a spectacle of. But that’s exactly what Jesus does — only His motive is not to embarrass the man, but to do an act for him that makes him whole.

The man is probably sitting mid to back of the synagogue, not on an aisle. He’s safely tucked into his unnoticeable seat. Jesus gets him out of the pew, down the aisle, and to the front and center. The man could just as easily have taken umbrage at Jesus for the public singling out and walked out the back door instead — unhealed.

Maybe you feel unnoticed by Jesus. But He sees you even when you are trying to hide. In order to make you whole, He asks you to do something, to come out of your seat of anonymity. He wants to dislocate you from where you’ve been to take you where you must go.

Unless the man with the shriveled hand had come forward, he would have missed the good thing the Lord had for him. When we are willing to be identified as having a spiritual need, then God can do His work in us.

The man with the shriveled hand trusted that Jesus had good intentions for him. You must trust Him also.

Jesus’ opponents did not trust Him. Their myriad Sabbath rules permitted them to stop a physical condition from getting worse, but not to help it to get better.

Jesus gets no answer to His question as to which is better on the Sabbath: doing good or evil, saving life or killing. At least, they should have answered, “It is unlawful on any day to do evil or to kill.”

Jesus taught that there is never a time when we are exempt from doing good.

The issue is an everyday one. What are you going to do today: good or evil? You must not remain silent to Jesus’ question, as did His critics. Jesus waits for a clear answer from you and me: “Yes, today and every day, I will do good and not evil. I will save life and not destroy it.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, You put the question to me as to what I’m going to do today — not what I’m going to think or feel. Help me to do good even when I don’t feel like it, even when I’m depressed or lonely. Grant me the strength to do good today.


GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

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