Loving God, I bring You my certainties and my doubts. I pray You’ll move me to a deeper faith today.
Read Mark 3:1-6
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, … he went around doing good and healing…” (Acts 10:38). Can it be said of us that we go around doing good?
The scene is a Galilean synagogue, and the focal point is a man with a withered hand. It wasn’t a life-threatening condition but may well have inhibited his employment prospects. Rabbinic law allowed healing on the Sabbath only if a life was in danger, so this incident clinches it for the religious authorities. This time, Jesus has gone too far in challenging their authority. They were searching for grounds to accuse him (2) and he had instead showed in public the inconsistency of their position over the Sabbath. So they then made an unholy alliance and a decision (which Mark alone tells us) with eternal consequences!
This is a confrontation of Jesus’ making. He commanded the man to stand center stage and then directed a challenging question to the religious leaders. Focusing on the man’s specific need, Jesus broadened out the issue to the general principle of what’s permissible on the Sabbath. In the context of human need, surely when it’s possible to do good, and one chooses not to, that is as bad as doing evil. This left the authorities in a quandary, because their narrow regulations would have resulted in inaction, by implication something very wrong. There’s a lot at stake here. Jesus was angered and deeply distressed by their unwillingness to see the principles behind the law; for them, the very foundation of what they believed–true religion was obedience to the law–was threatened. Their authority and status largely depended on their general position being correct.
The Pharisees were genuine believers in God and they tried to do the right thing, but religion and holding on to power had gotten in the way. We, too, can be blinded by unwillingness to look at things differently, or be captivated by status and power.
Make a list of national church and civic leaders. Resolve to pray that they might be committed to the good of others, always teachable, and holding power lightly.
Dear Father, I ask that You’ll enable me to be open to the new things that the Spirit is doing in the church and world.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.