Jesus heals on the Sabbath

This is written by Maggie Sandilands who is human, except for early mornings.

Mark 3

Jesus heals on the Sabbath
3 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.

Crowds follow Jesus
7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. 8 When they heard all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. 9 Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. 10 For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. 11 Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, 'You are the Son of God.' 12 But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him.

Jesus appoints the Twelve
13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means 'sons of thunder'), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Jesus accused by his family and by teachers of the law
20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, 'He is out of his mind.'

22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, 'He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.'

23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: 'How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man's house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man's house. 28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.'

30 He said this because they were saying, 'He has an impure spirit.'

31 Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting round him, and they told him, 'Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.'

33 'Who are my mother and my brothers?' he asked.

34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle round him and said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother.'

Reflection

This passage really gets to me. Here's a man who is hurt, disabled. His shrivelled hand would mean he couldn't work to support himself or a family. Dependent on others to survive, he would likely have been despised in his community.

Jesus is known to heal; the religious leaders are even expecting him to heal. And instead of feeling awe or joy to see such miracles, they're jealous and want to kill him for it. In the rest of the chapter we see how people crowded round Jesus wherever he went, because he healed them, because he made visible and tangible the love of God.

This love is clearly lacking among the Pharisees, supposedly the people of God. They don't care about restoring a man's life. They care about their own power and position, which are threatened by such grace freely given by Jesus, to those they think are useless and undeserving. So rather than risk being wrong, they refuse to recognise God right in front of them.

Jesus is heartbroken at their hard-heartedness, and totally calls them out, exploding the hypocrisy of legalistic religion;
 
"Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?"

The Sabbath was an official day of rest, but by insisting on the letter of the Law, they are entirely missing the spirit and the point. In the place of worship, instead of helping someone, they plot to kill - breaking a key commandment of the Law they supposedly uphold.

I wonder how often I also miss the point, when doubt, pain, pride or fear gets in the way of my relationship with God, and makes it hard to show his love to others.

Pray
How is God's love visible in our lives?

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