e) A Man with a Shriveled Hand
“Another time he (Jesus) went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, ‘Stand up in front of everyone.’ Then Jesus asked them, ‘Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’ But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.” (Mark 3:1-6)
While this account provides us with considerable information about the circumstances surrounding this miracle of Jesus, it tells us little about the miracle itself. We hear only that Jesus ordered a man with a shriveled hand to stand up before all the people in a synagogue and to stretch out his hand. When the man obeyed Jesus, his hand was restored.
Yet, not all the people who witnessed this miracle were happy about it. Nor were they happy about Jesus Himself. They were troubled that Jesus healed on the Sabbath, the day of rest, the day God had set aside for the nation of Israel to observe as a holy day through His great prophet Moses. In fact, it was one of God's Ten Commandments for the Children of Israel. Giving medical aid on the Sabbath day was allowed only under life-threatening circumstances.
For Jesus, doing good equaled saving life and doing evil equaled killing, yes, on the Sabbath also. As Jesus elsewhere affirmed, the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. God gave His commandments in service to the nation, to guide the people on how to love God and how to love their neighbours. Therefore, Jesus restored the man's hand. Did not one save on the Sabbath day even an animal that had fallen into the ditch?
Sad to say, many religious leaders and politicians (the Pharisees and the Herodians) opposed Jesus. Though each one of these groups opposed the other, they united against Jesus. Was it because the leaders feared that Jesus threatened their religious and political prestige and leadership? As Jesus went about doing good, they intensified their enmity against Jesus and even resolved to kill Him. Meanwhile, as the prophets had prophesied, the Messiah continued to mingle with the ordinary people, the poor, the handicapped, the sinners – doing good through preaching, teaching and healing.
Thus, while Jesus restored the shriveled hand of a man, He clearly revealed His disgust and anger with the attitude of the religious and political leaders of the people. No doubt, we all agree with Jesus' response. Yet should we also be open to examine our times of hard-heartedness and inappropriate silence, when because of fear or inconvenience, we fail to stand up for justice and to speak out against evil, especially on behalf of the poor and the weak?