Mark 3:1-6 NLT
Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him. He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus.
Today, the two characters we are asked to look at and to try to identify with are the man with the withered hand, and the pharisee. Although, none of us would want to identify with the pharisee if I am honest as I look at this passage, I find myself more like him than I would like to confess. The Pharisee liked things all tight and within the law. He required certain practices done certain ways. He had an order by which he conducted his life. Jesus challenged that order, and the intent of those certain practices. I find with my mouth I am quick to confess that I want the religious box to be broken, but when Jesus comes and even shakes it up a bit, I get very uncomfortable. This reality creates some very challenging thoughts. How much of what we do in our religious circles are really what He is even asking for and how much of them are the “religious boxes” we have created for ourselves? We like the order of things even when we complain about them. I am challenged by the realization of just how much I really can identify with the pharisee.
How would I respond if Jesus came and did something that did not fit into my perception of how He should work? Would I respond any different? I have listened to people over the years when God would be doing something and often the voices within the religious walls became the greatest critics of what He was pouring out. Why is that? Could it be we are a bit more like the pharisee then we are willing to look at? I am realizing that I am, but I willingly bring that heart to Him to change.
I also can identify with the man with the withered hand. He represents limitation. I have felt limitation in life for obviously different reasons. Sometimes my gender in ministry has been my limitation. Other times, different things, but I can identify with the longing for Christ to come into that limitation and breathe life to the heart and healing to the life. It is a place that those who don’t identify with can’t understand. So, when Jesus came and broke the religious box, he was letting this man with limitation know you are more valuable than any rule. I came for you. I have had moments where Jesus has come and done for me the same. He bypassed mans “defined terms” and met me in my place of need. For that my heart is grateful.
There is much to digest in this parable. I am challenged to reassess my limitations and bring them to God, but I am also challenged to ask the Lord to show me where I am the Pharisee and to want Him more than the religious ideas that bring a false security into my life. He is my safe place. Nothing else will do.