Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled 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 shriveled 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.
In yesterday’s reading, Nicodemus was confused by words Jesus spoke. In today’s reading, there is open controversy, even threats of murder. Some folks were just waiting for Jesus to step out of line with what was deemed acceptable in that day, when Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath.
Several things sadden me about this reading. Why was it people who presumably had faith in God who were so ready to accuse Jesus of wrongdoing? The ones whom we might think were closest to God’s heart were in actuality the ones farthest away from knowing what God really wants. Secondly, Jesus’ accusers wanted to protect the sanctity of God’s law about doing no work on the Sabbath, even if their method was not acceptable. We don’t do a very good job setting aside the Sabbath for God. We don’t take the time we need to rest and reflect on God’s goodness.
I pray that your heart will long to find this rest – not because it is a law that we need to toe the line, but because it restores our souls. May the Lord lead you to lie down in green pastures beside still waters, to walk with you through dark valleys and sit you down to find common ground with enemies, to bless you with an overflowing cup, goodness and mercy every day of your life. If this happens on a Sabbath, even better.
Gracious God, incline my heart to you to want what you want and do what makes you happy. Let me heal or serve or listen or care as I best I may. Let me do what I can – for you. Amen.