And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.
The one who understands his need for the touch of God has a different perspective than he who does not. The handicapped one understands his condition and the helplessness of it. The unwhole person understands his lack. This man with the withered hand stood in the midst of this crowd, perhaps hiding it, ashamed of it. But perhaps he also stood there with hope, desiring mercy. He would have answered Jesus’ question with a simple plea: “Give me life. Do good unto me and heal me.” Would the Pharisees have begrudged Jesus’ healing of others if they were the ones who needed to be made whole?
Until we see our need for Jesus, He can’t do anything for us. His ability is there. His willingness is there. His power is there. But we can hinder Him with our unbelief. We can hinder Him with our attitude and our perspective on the situation. We can hinder Him if our heart pushes Him away. But in obedience, we can stand forth in the midst of a hostile crowd and stretch forth our hand in belief and be made perfectly whole.
Sometimes we can get too caught up in trying to follow rules instead of living for Jesus. The Sabbath was not meant to be a day of strict rule-keeping to the exclusion of doing good. It wasn’t an excuse not to do the right thing. It wasn’t a loophole to get out of obeying the great commandment of God to love others as ourselves. Too often the Pharisees were looking to condemn Jesus for any little thing He did that could be considered “work” without realizing that there was important work to be done. There were souls to save and wounds to heal, hearts to fix, lives to change.
Maybe sometimes we just need to get our perspective back in the right place—focused on Jesus. It was our understanding of our great need of salvation that led us to Him in the first place. And it is our realization of our weakness and helplessness that keeps us coming back to Him. It is our great lack that searches out His fullness. So as we once ourselves craved for mercy, like the man with the withered hand, let us seek to show mercy to others. As we once desired grace, let us give grace to others. May we strive to do good and not evil, to give life and not withhold anything we can give that would make a difference.