Miracles Day 9 // The Withered Hand

He left that place and entered their synagogue; a man was there with a withered hand, and they asked Him, “Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath?” so that they might accuse Him. He said to them, “Suppose one of you has only one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath; will you not lay hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a human being than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath.” Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and it was restored, as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, how to destroy Him. When Jesus became aware of this, He departed. Many crowds followed Him and He cured all of them, and He ordered them not to make Him known. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

“Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon Him, and He will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry out, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick until He brings justice through to victory. And in His name, all the nations will put their hope.” (Mat. 12:9-21, NRSV)

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As the news of Jesus spread, the Pharisees and leaders of the law grew angry of His work, His methods, and His teachings.

In today’s miracle, Jesus becomes the object of their testing. They want to catch Him in an injustice - in hopes of collecting material to use in a trial against Him.

And today, they get a lot to work with; for in this synagogue was a disabled man (one that they most likely planted themselves).

And what we overlook is the sad reality of what a “withered” hand would mean for a man in this culture. Without the strength of both hands, his contributions to society would be little to none. No one would hire, train, or seek work from this man.

To the working class, he was unusable. To the high class, he was a pity. And to the Pharisees, he was just a means to an end.

So the question is posed: “Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath?”

You can almost guess the inner thoughts raging behind: “That thing you do - healing anyone and everyone - is it right to do on God’s Holy day of rest, Oh Rabbi, teacher of the good law...”

And Jesus responds to their question with one of His own. In pure wisdom, He reveals the shallow nature of their heart’s concerns.

In His scenario, He paints the imagery of one of their sheep falling into a pit on the “Lord’s day.” Because of the nature of their work (how they make their living) their overall value of this life would spur them into action.

There was no doubt that each of them would step in and save their sheep. It was theirs, objects of their work, prized pieces of their livelihood.

And in one statement Jesus convicts us all. “How much more valuable is a human?”

In their ongoing concern with the objects of their work, they quickly overlook the precious value found in the objects of God’s work.

As the apostle Paul writes, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works...” (Ephesians 2:10; ESV)

Humanity, whether redeemed or still fallen, possess the image of our God. We are God’s work - His creation. And through Jesus, we have the ability to do good works.

Yet here, the people in this synagogue were overlooking the values of our God.

To them, this man was nothing but a disability. He had nothing to offer them. No means towards making their life better. And there was no money to be made from Him.

But our Jesus did not come to better the life of the individual. He did not come to enhance our worldly values. Instead, He came to better the life of all; to show the value of all. And, in doing so, He highlights His glory and greatness.

As we look at our values in any given day, are they in line with those of the Pharisees? You can find your values by looking at what you give the most of your time to.

Is it strictly given to the objects of your work; the plans of your day? Are your concerns, stresses, and pursuits solely upon your own selfish plans and possessions? Are you quick to overlook those around you because they have “nothing” to offer you?

Or, do you allow the value of mankind to shape your thoughts, overcome your biases, direct what conversations you start, and compel you to action?

As Jesus points out in this miracle, to not do good when it is in our power to do it, is to do evil. To not save, protect, heal, encourage, lift up, and justify - when we can - is to powerfully choose to hurt, break, neglect and even kill.

“Kill?”  you say. Yes, neglect kills all hope, all joy, and what little trust that is left in those in need.

And how this miracle ends is so strange. Instead of understanding His grace and being moved by the beauty of this healing, the Pharisees begin conspiring against Him. They wanted to destroy Him.

You see, when living in the value system of God, we will be conspired against. In fact, the world does not value people who truly value people.

This is why they were angered. To them, Jesus rocked the boat of social norms. To them, He was weak, risky, and unwanted. He was seen as radical, a rule-breaker with a different way of living.

And the same irrational labels are quickly placed upon you and I today. But as you go forth, keep that in mind. The value system of God is of much importance - but we live in a world that belittles it.

So despite the opposition, go and recognize needs. Speak and act with the understanding of people’s immense value to our God. And in doing so, we pray that you radically change your culture.

Through us, God chooses to still bring justice through to victory.

Thank you so much for the read. We do hope that you join us for the rest of this week. You can get caught up on past miracles using the tabs below! We hope you have a great day.

Greg, Declare Glory