Mark 3:1-6: Restoration.
“Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shrivelled hand was there. 2 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. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shrivelled hand, ‘Stand up in front of everyone.’ 4 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. 5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.” NIV UK
Note three things:
- Meanness of spirit: What a terrible thing a religion has become when it has lost all heart; when it no longer cares about people and their needs. The Pharisees were just out to ‘get’ Jesus. They had Him in their sights and they wanted a reason to pull the trigger. As religious leaders, they should have been shepherds of the people. However, at least as far as this bunch were concerned, they had become hard-hearted and cold. They were ‘’stubborn’’ (5). They refused to see the truth about Jesus.
- Kindness of heart: Jesus loved the man who had the ‘’shrivelled hand’ (1). He knew He could do something for him. So, although He was aware of the presence of the sharp shooters, crouching in the bushes, aiming at Him, He didn’t hide (3, 4). He had both courage and kindness. He gave the Pharisees a further piece of convincing evidence. As far as they were concerned, though, it was just another stick to beat Him with.
- Commonality of purpose: The Pharisees and Herodians were not natural allies, but they found common cause in wanting to get rid of Jesus. It was like wanting to assassinate the best doctor ever! Why would you want to remove such a good Man from the world? However, man at his worst, hates God; religion at its worst rejects Christ. (This reminds me, by the way, of the reconciliation of Herod and Pilate towards the end of Jesus’ life: Luke 23:12).
It may be that a part of your life has shrivelled. Jesus bids you stretch it out towards Him today, and you too can prove His restorative power.
‘Through long disuse of powers which God has given, but which we have refrained from exercising, degeneration may have set in; Christ, however, bids us exert them again. Insofar as we dare to obey, we shall find ourselves able. Dare to speak, or pray, or work, not at the impulse of your nature, but at his bidding, and you will suddenly find yourself given power.’ F.B. Meyer: ‘Devotional commentary,’ p.422.