‘And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.” Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.’ (Mark 3:1-6)
Jesus came to make God known, He revealed God is a caring, kind Father. But in His ministry, we saw Him constantly challenged what was happening. He was confrontational in many ways, because the people were in bondage in the religious rituals at the time. It was in a church setting, a Synagogue, and man had a problem, he had a withered hand, which was dried out. During the time, people were in a honour-shame culture, if the community respected you, then you have honour, if the community despised you then you receive shame. the honour comes first from the family, if you are from a wealthy, well-respected or powerful family, then you were born with honour, there were others way to receive honour, for example to win in the war, or to help the poor. People treasured honour, and they feared to lose face.
During Jesus’ time, if anyone was disfigured in any way, then this was the source of shame. This man had a disability in his hand, it was also a source of shame. People belittle the disabled people, they even thought they were cursed. It was not likely for a disabled man to come to the front of the Synagogues, but he was hunger for healing and for a miracle. He was handicapped on the right hand, at the time, the right hand represented the capacity to work. Therefore he withdrew himself and had shame in his heart. Jesus not only healed him, but also restored his image in the public.
The Bible also talks about the right hand being the hand of blessings, the ability to release the Power of God. The right hand is also the hand of fellowship, when you meet people, you hold out your right hand to connect with people. So this man lost his ability to work, the ability to bless, and the ability to connect with people. Do we also have an area in life that is withered, part of us is withered inside and we could not work, we could not give and we could not connect with people. This man was withered physically, but people can be withered in the heart, we turn inward and something stops us function in the way God created us to function. Fear can withered our soul, instead of loving people, we would focus on our own needs. Fear can also make us easily offended. When someone wronged us, we will hold back, become withered with bitterness. When we allowed offense to form in us, it becomes a root of bitterness in our heart, when people are bitter, they can’t speak kindly to others.
Have we closed up any part of our lives because we are afraid? Maybe because we were critised, maybe we were rejected, are we carrying bitterness in our heart and our hearts closed up. Maybe we grow up in a family without encouragement, maybe failures brought us fears and rejections. When people are withered, they would withdraw. So if we see someone withdrawing, there will be somewhere in their lives that are withered. When Jesus saw the man with the withered hand, He felt grief. Jesus wanted to help us and set us free, so He will feel grief when He saw us withdrawing. God can see us, even though we may be hiding in the crowd, on the outside we may look ok, but inside our hearts God sees our withered part.
If we want to be set free, we must make the decision to stand up and to come out. The man was afraid and he was in shame, the last place he wanted to be was to be at the front. But Jesus was determined not only to heal him, but to put honour back on him. God wants to put honour and value on hurting people and broken people. Back in the days, in order for people to receive more honour, they would start a honour challenge. The Pharisees were publicly challenging Jesus in order to receive more honour. They asked Him impossible questions, tried to catch Him so He would walk away in shame. But every time Jesus had such wise answers that put the Pharisees to shame.
This time, Jesus turned around and challenged the Pharisees, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” The Pharisees were silent because they could not answer, therefore they went away to plot to kill Jesus. They plotted not just to kill Jesus but to crucify Him, to publicly shame Him. Jesus was crucified to take away our shame. We will only change when we strep out of our comfort zone, we don’t want to do that because we want to stay comfortable. But Jesus wants us to come out and believe He will set us free, to heal us, to deliver us, and to take us out of our limitation. If we want to see great things happen, we must let God help us, to stretch, to let God heal us, and to start again.
We don’t have to stay in our brokenness, don’t hide, don’t stay in the crowd, Jesus sees us and He wants to help us. We will never know until we choose to strength out our hand to Jesus.