Today’s Gospel: Mark 3:1-6
In today’s Gospel, Jesus heals a man with a withered hand in the synagogue on the Sabbath, very much scrutinized by the Pharisees. In fact, they are carefully watching Jesus, trying to catch him doing something unethical. Lost in the whole “Will he or won’t he heal on the Sabbath” quandary is the man with the withered hand.
This man has a deformity, no doubt causing him difficulty in his life. Probably, either he has been deemed sinful and his deformity is considered a punishment, or he is pitied and looked down upon by others. We learn nothing of his story, not even his name. And yet, Jesus calls him forward, asks him to stretch out his withered hand, and heals him there on the spot. Jesus restores him to physical wholeness, raises him up from his pitiable state, and presumably, gives him a better future.
But all the Pharisees glean from this is that Jesus broke the law of the Sabbath. Ultimately, Jesus gives us all an important ethics lesson. “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath…to safe life rather than to destroy it?” Jesus asks the Pharisees and us. Jesus teaches compassion in this event, not just a strict adherence to the laws. To Jesus, the law of love and compassion overrides the law of the Sabbath. The Spirit of the law is love.
Let’s imagine ourselves there in the synagogue as this transpires. How do we feel?
Gracious God, help me to remember that life-giving compassion is preferable—no matter what day it is! Help me to not get so tangled up in legalism that I neglect any good work you would have me do for others.
Copyright 2017 Heidi Gainan
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