It was the perfect moment.
There, in front of the whole Synagogue, Jesus was in a no win situation. If He healed the man with the withered hand, He was breaking the law. If He ignored Him, then He did not care about the “rabble” that were beginning to follow Him.
Whether the Pharisees had set this encounter up or, whether they had just seized upon an opportunity that had presented itself, we cannot know from the account in Mark’s Gospel. But, there were some things that really grabbed my attention, as I looked at Mark 3 vs. 1 – 6 in my time with God today.
Firstly, the way in which Jesus turned the tables on the Pharisees;
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.
(Mark 3 vs. 4)
The reason why the Pharisees remained silent is because their theology, their understanding of God, was too narrow. When something came along that did not perfectly fit their mould, they were not able to respond in a way that bore witness to the truth of God.
One of the great dangers that we all face is that we can end up “making God in our own image”. Then we struggle when something comes along that we cannot compute. Perhaps we need to come back to the simple truth that God is far bigger, more gracious, more loving than we can begin grasp with our finite minds. I read something that came from Mother Theresa that said;
“I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him. I serve because I love Jesus.”
I think it is a mistake to assume that each person that we come across, each idea that crosses our horizon is of God. However, what these words mean to me is that, in some way, God is revealed through different people and different ideas. What we must do is look for that which is of God, To do that, as Mother Theresa says, our love for Jesus and seeking His ways and righteousness must be at the heart of all we are and do.
That’s why verse 5 jumped out at me;
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.
(Mark 3 vs. 5)
I was troubled by the phrase “looked at them in anger and, deeply distressed”. I reflected on why these words troubled me. I began to think it is one thing to know the law, it is something quite different to know the one who gave the law. When you know the law giver, you can appreciate the heart, the intention, that lays behind it.
Jesus knew that one of the qualities of His Father is compassion. So, in that compassion He reaches out to the man and heals Him. The Pharisees plot to get rid of Jesus because they do not know the compassion of God.
A few years back there were some bands doing the rounds that had the letter “WWJD” on them. They stood for What Would Jesus Do. The idea was that people were reminded to ask themselves in any situation “what would Jesus do about this?”.
Perhaps, we need some that say “ITMFH”. Is This My Father’s Heart.
Today will you ask yourself ITMFH as you meet others, hear stories and face the questions that this world throws in your direction?