Jump Start # 2715
Matthew 12:10 “And behold, there was a man with a withered hand. And they questioned Him saying, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” – in order that they might accuse Him.”
Our verse today reminds us that even among what appears to be good and religious people, their attitudes, motives and insides can be all twisted and messed up. Throughout this chapter, Jesus encounters test after test by those who did not believe in Him. He was truly a chief cornerstone that the builders rejected. Examined, questioned, and pushed to the limits, the Pharisaical spirit could not open their eyes to see Jesus. Our verse is yet another example of this.
A man has a withered hand. The previous verses tells us that this takes place on Saturday, the Sabbath and in the synagogue. The fact that the withered hand man is in the synagogue is remarkable. Some would have blamed God for a crippled hand. We are not told whether he was born this way, or, was it an injury from work, or, a victim of violence. His hand was withered and he was in the synagogue. The synagogue was a place to worship and that’s where we find the man with the withered hand. Injured on the outside, he remained whole on the inside.
Also present in that synagogue was another form of injury. It too was withered. Instead of a withered hand, it was withered hearts and souls. This belonged to these Pharisees. Their paralysis was much more serious. And, unlike the man with the bad hand, they never recognized how injured that they were. One can go to Heaven with a withered hand. You can’t go to Heaven with a withered heart, not spiritually.
The Pharisees ask a question. They ask if it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath. They were more concerned with the calendar than the restoration of this man. They didn’t ask Jesus if He would heal the man. They didn’t ask Jesus if He could heal the man. They didn’t plead in behalf of this man. No, the fact that Jesus could heal was taken for granted. Will you heal on the Sabbath seemed to be their only concern. And, as Matthew adds, this was asked so that they might accuse Jesus. Violating the Sabbath was more of a concern to these Pharisees than the fact that Jesus could heal. They began taking healings for granted. No big deal. Seen Him do it before. Heal on a Friday. Heal on a Sunday. Nothing to write home about. But if He was to heal on a Saturday, now, that’s got to prove He’s not the Messiah. How, oh, how these Pharisees missed the obvious. The fact that Jesus healed anyone, just one, ought to be enough to make us believe. But He didn’t heal just one. He healed dozens and dozens of people. None of them could heal. None of them could heal on any day of the week. They lived among the crippled, blind and demon possessed and they couldn’t make things any better.
And, I wonder if sometimes you and I miss the obvious. It’s right before us, but like these Pharisees, we never see it. For instance:
- Do we miss the joy of worship because we saw someone taking their mask off?
- Do we fail to see the bright and encouraging faith in a young man who leads his first prayer. What we notice is that he didn’t stand behind the mic or he talked too long, if there is such a thing in prayer.
- Do you not see the wonderful hearts of our shepherds who love us so much and are trying to lead us safely and spiritually through these troublesome times? All we notice are the unusual ways we must take the Lord’s Supper these days.
- Do we notice the hard work of the preachers who continually are making quality videos for Bible classes. It’s not the best way to teach, but they are trying their best. Do we see that or instead do we notice that the preacher wore the same shirt in last week’s video?
Missing the obvious—it’s so easy to do. The Pharisees did it so they could trap Jesus. We may do it to keep ourselves comfortable and relaxed.
Will you heal on the Sabbath is not the same as could you please heal my friend? One spoken in meanness and judgment, the other spoken out of love and concern. The one points fingers, the other opens up a heart. One is critical, the other is kind. One is looking for a fight, the other is seeking mercy.
And, sadly, much too often, both spirits are alive in a congregation. Two people witnessing the same event. One become critical and accusatory. The other is thankful and blessed. One misses the obvious and the other embraces the obvious. One leaves none the better. One leaves encouraged, lifted up and connected to the Lord and others.
One has to admire the patience, kindness and love of the Lord. Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath could have been answered with: “Is it lawful to be as narrow minded and dumb as you are?” Or, “Is it lawful to miss the obvious?” Jesus was kind to the core. He was doing all He could to save. You won’t find those words out of Jesus’ mouth.
The obvious—don’t miss it.