Mark 3:1 – And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.
Mark 3:2 – And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.
Mark 3:3– And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.
Mark 3:4 – 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.
Mark 3:5 – And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
The above passage is one of the greatest miracles to study in all of the New Testament. Jesus is at His best here, breaking the Sabbath, healing the hurting, and dealing with the religious.
Without digging too much of the details out of this dilemma, I want to unpack one truth from this tragedy turned to triumph. The man is asked of God to stretch forth his hand- obviously, embarrassed of his problem, he held the hand close to his body. He is sitting when Jesus calls him. I see a tremendous need here, a handicap that is hindering this helpless man.
There is a crowd of religious onlookers at the temple as well. Religious folk tend to be onlookers and opportunists. Ever scanning the crowd to see who they think is right and wrong. Finally singling out the man in the corner they target him with all their tenacity. They don’t care about the need at hand (no pun intended); rather they are stringent about protocol, prejudiced by the law, and perfect in their own eyes.
The fact that the temple is the place for healing doesn’t cross their minds. All they can think about is the Sabbath. They don’t take time to consider the courage the man had to muster to come to the temple. They don’t realize that every day is a Sabbath for this man that can no longer do his job (history says he was a stonemason). They are sitting in satan’s seat – the seat of accusation.
Jesus does for this man what churches strive to do on a daily basis: Jesus get’s this man on his feet, asks him to reveal the hurt, asks this man to stretch forth, and restores him to wholeness. He doesn’t let the crowd stop this tremendous miracle, but He does reveal to them how he feels about them.
Jesus gets angry. He doesn’t get angry too much in the bible, but here, dealing with people that have hard hearts, are accusers, and have no mercy: Jesus get’s ticked off.
Many come to our churches broken, hurting and in need of restoration. However, too often they meet religious protocol, accusation, and hard-hearted people. What they need is Jesus, what they get is judgment. And Jesus is grieved and angry. Unmerciful people irritate me. They aren’t the kind of people I want in my church. They can hardly walk with the beam in their eye, but still they manage to point out the speck in yours. Church leadership willingly calls out those that are living in open sin (for their own good), but fail to confront those without compassion.
We need to be merciful. Our hearts need to be very soft toward others, and we need to vacate the judgment seat. The very fabric of our lives should be flecked with mercy. Give people the opportunity to be restored. Always err on the side of mercy. Don’t judge by social status or religious rhetoric. God’s favor cannot shine down upon a church flowing with issues and idiots.
Study the times that God was angry and grieved in scripture. Note how His anger led him to act. That downfall is your destiny – if you don’t have mercy.