Categories: Sermons

Meditate On This: The Man with the Withered Hand

The miracle that occurs in Luke 6 is tied to another story in the same chapter. What connects them is that they both occur on the Sabbath. Throughout his ministry, Jesus makes a habit of upsetting the religious leaders on this particular day of the week. There are many rules and guidelines that were followed to ensure that this day remained holy.

In the first part of the story, the Pharisees question Jesus’s disciples about eating grain as they travel. As they walked, the disciples were plucking the grain out of the ground and eating the kernels. Although this sounds like no big deal, it was a big deal to the Pharisees because they believed that the disciples were breaking several Sabbath commands. Jesus responds to their outrage with the story of David eating holy bread on the Sabbath and a declaration that the Son of Man is the Sabbath.

This brings us to the miracle of the man with the withered hand. I love this story because the man did not show up believing that he was going to be healed. He came to the synagogue to learn and see Jesus. Also in attendance were the Pharisees with different motives. This presented Jesus with the opportunity to teach everyone and restore someone at the same time. Knowing that the man is in the crowd, Jesus calls to him to rise. Then he does the thing that likely gives all of us anxiety: he tells everyone to look at the man. Jesus does this because he wants them to see this man and to see his suffering; otherwise, it would be some abstract example. But seeing this man makes the issue real. That’s the point!

The story goes that Jesus asks his audience, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or destroy it?” This may appear to be a question grammatically, but it wasn’t. Jesus left no room for neutrality in their response. In the teaching of Jesus, to ignore this man’s need for help was the same as death. It’s easy to get caught up in the rules and regulations of church. But if those rules or regulations hinder our abilities to serve and to love those we encounter, we too have missed the message.