Today’s story is entitled Healing a Withered Hand.
More Sabbath talk, let’s see where this takes us.
I guess that Jesus, in the previous section, was walking through a field on his way to synagogue on Friday evening.
There just happened to be a guy with a withered hand there. To my knowledge, Jews did not like unclean people, so I have to wonder why the Jews allowed this guy into their synagogue. Furthermore, knowing that it was against the law to heal someone on the Sabbath, surely the guy didn’t come to get healed. The whole situation feels a little setup.
Since it’s an issue of Sabbath law that the people are waiting on, it should be noted that the law at the time said you could only heal someone on the Sabbath if it was life threatening, not something as easy to cope with as a shriveled hand.
I would like to take a step aside here to point out how common the idea of healing was to these people. So much so that the law said that you couldn’t heal someone on a given day, you had to wait for a workday. How the world has changed! I have to wonder, were there ever healings? Are there still? There are stories, but there are always stories. I am open to the possibility, but I have not experienced such things. For someone so common 2000 years ago, what happened!?
On the other hand, how casually these people went out to plot an assassination. How familiar they seemed with death, and unconcerned with breaking the fairly clear, “thou shall not kill” rule. These are the righteous ones Jesus spoke of earlier? These are the healthy? Perhaps this suggests that Jesus was speaking sarcastically before? Yes, sarcasm has existed for as long as there has been language.
Alrighty, back to the focus of this entire story. “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath, or evil, to save a life or destroy it?” This seems directly related to the last section about the laws of Sabbath being open for interpretation, about the restrictions being meant to help people, not hurt or hinder them.
Fascinating point, though, is that Jesus looked at them in anger and grief. As if he couldn’t believe that people would rather let this man suffer one more day with this deformity rather than follow arbitrary, man-made rules about the Sabbath. If Jesus knew everything there was to know, he would have known their hearts before their reaction (as he seems to in other instances). Anger, in this case, seems to be righteous anger, inflamed by the apathy of the crowd, the lack of compassion. However, what motivated that apathy, that lack of compassion? Might have it been a fear of God? A desire to do God’s will to the best of their ability?
Anger, in this case, seems to be righteous anger, inflamed by the apathy of the crowd, the lack of compassion. However, what motivated that apathy, that lack of compassion? Might have it been a fear of God? After all “To obey the Lord is the fundamental principle for wise living.” Perhaps they shared a desire to do God’s will to the best of their ability? Certainly, if Jesus had been able to see such desires in their hearts, he would not have been angry at them, but show compassion. “I see that you desire to do the right thing, let me show you what the right thing is.” Perhaps this is a glimpse that Jesus does not know everything there is to know?
Truly, Jesus’ anger here makes a lot more sense if he is human. A human, with a special understanding of God’s will, and a special message for us. A human with emotions that lash out. A human who can’t understand why people might feel the way they do, and so become frustrated.
Food for thought.