1 Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. 2 Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” 4 Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him. 5 He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! 6 At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus. ~ Mark 3:1-6
Today, we come to Mark 3:1-6 where the Lord Jesus healed the deformed hand of a man in a synagogue on the Sabbath. The Lord Jesus is widely considered to have performed at least 37 miracles during his three-year ministry, from turning water into wine at the beginning to the second miraculous catch of fish towards the end. He also healed people, lots of people, with approximately two-thirds of his recorded miracles involving healing, and that doesn’t include casting out evil spirits or raising three people from the dead.
In v.1-3 of today's text we read, "1 Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. 2 Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone."
The Lord Jesus deliberately called the man with the deformed hand to the center of the room. He did not want any of those assembled to miss the healing that He was about to perform. The purpose of God's miracles is to position us to hear and see most clearly the good news of the prospect of forgiven sin which is what enables us to have a personal relationship with God. Yet, the religious leaders of Israel were hard-hearted. In fact, they were there that day in the synagogue waiting for an opportunity to discredit the Lord Jesus. They were looking for Him to do or say something that would enable them to nullify His effect on the people.
Hard-heartedness: I find it much easier to spot it in someone other than me. The Pharisees, much like most of the American modern day media, are in the mode of watching and hoping for the Lord Jesus to slip up. At the heart of all judgmental people is a hard heart. This heart given to judgement is mired in fear. The Pharisees feared losing their status, money and followers.
In v.4 of today's text we read, "Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him."
Just then, the Lord Jesus asked His critics, the Pharisees, a question that they would not answer. The question was clearly a life or death question. When the religious leaders refused to answer His question, the Lord Jesus became angry for what a hard heart does to the human heart. A rigid, Pharisee-like approach to life imprisons us in our take on life. It leaves no room for mistakes, and it has a hard time receiving and giving grace. A hard heart doesn’t nurture self or others, it strangles the life out of all.
Interestingly, there is nothing wrong with the Sabbath, as God gave it to man. But these men had added so many man-made rules to it that they had destroyed it. Their zeal to maintain it ruined its purpose. In a single moment, the Lord Jesus cut across all their pretense, and, their immediate reaction was to be so angry at the threat the Lord Jesus represented to their favored position in society that they immediately went out and joined their enemies, the supporters of Herod who was the villain in the Christmas story. Herod was a wicked king who saw the baby Jesus as a threat and wanted to murder him. The religious leaders sought help from the supporters of Herod, seeking their counsel on how they might kill Him. The Lord Jesus always drove evil right out into the open, where it was visible for all to see.
In v.5-6 of today's text we read, "5 He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! 6 At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus."
In Matthew's account of this story, the Lord Jesus asked the religious leaders, "Which of you, if you had an ox that fell into the ditch on the Sabbath wouldn't help it out?" You help out a stupid animal because you own it and it's your livelihood, it will bring you a profit, but you won't help out a human being made in the image of God?"
When the Lord Jesus told the man to stretch out his hand, I'm sure there were present there that day those who thought this command from the Lord Jesus was cruel. The Lord always gets us to the place in life when He gives an impossible command, but, whenever He gives a command like this, He always gives the power to accomplish the command. The Lord Jesus is always true to the truth.
The withered hand of that man that day was hardened, and, it was an analogy of the hardened hearts of the religious leaders. Much worse than the hardened hand of the man were the hardened hearts of the religious leaders. The withered hand of that obscure man that day in that synagogue served as an illustration for the hard-hearted. Any heart hardens when it is not receiving the love it needs to thrive. The Lord Jesus always uses His word in the process of revealing His heart to and for us. And, sometimes, He must reveal to us the hardened condition of our hearts before we can see and appreciate His heart of love for us. Our responsibility is to be soft enough for the Physician to do His work on us. Depending on our response to God's word, it will either harden us further or it will soften us. The choice is ours.