Love Rules

Whenever people were in the presence of Jesus, they sought healing. The same is true today. Jesus loves to heal. It doesn’t matter the time of day or the day of the week. What matters is the need. The religious leaders in Jesus’ day were all about keeping legalistic rules and turned their noses up at those who didn’t follow them. Jesus sliced through their religious arrogance with his words and showed them that loving people is supreme over keeping legalistic rules. He showed them that Love Rules.

One ridiculous rule Jesus stood firmly against was not to heal on the Sabbath, so Jesus healed many people on the Sabbath.

1Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them [the Pharisees] 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)

One reason Jesus used his God-given power to heal people’s ailments during his earthly ministry was to establish that He was the Son of God. The Pharisees could not heal, the Sadducees could not heal, and the sorcerers could not heal. Only Jesus and the Holy Spirit through men he empowered could perform miracles, including healings.

Three of the four gospel writers, including Luke, a doctor, recorded the biblical story of the healing of the man with the shriveled hand in Matthew 12:9-13, Mark 3:1-6, and Luke 6:6-11.

Step into the sandals of the man with the shriveled hand to see what he may have experienced that day. Then step back into your shoes to see how Jesus wants to provide similar healing for you.

Jesus asked the man with the shriveled hand – in the synagogue, on the Sabbath – to stand in front of everyone (including the Pharisees) for all to see this healing so there would be no question it was miraculous. No doubt, this man was in the habit of hiding his hand inside his cloak in embarrassment, and now Jesus commands him to stand in front of everyone and stretch out his hand. The man found the courage to obey instead of run away, and in doing so, received healing.

Through bravery, if we too hold out our imperfections and weaknesses toward God, he can work his healing in our hearts, and perhaps even in our physical bodies. If instead, we go into hiding, others cannot see God working gloriously through our limitations. He may not choose to heal our physical imperfections during our earthly life, but our hearts can heal, and the souls of many who are watching us can be moved closer to God. Like this man, we also have to courageously choose to obey God, and not run away even when we are afraid.

Jesus publicly validated the worth of this man and demonstrated his point to the Pharisees, and all who stood watching, that man is more valuable than rulebooks. Jesus asked the Pharisees a question, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:11-12).

At this point, the Pharisees knew Jesus could perform miracles, but they were testing him to see if he would perform one (do work) on the Sabbath. By healing the man, Jesus demonstrates he is Lord of the Sabbath, and that man is more important than their 613 legalistic rules. This made the Pharisees angry, and they began to conspire how to kill this uncontainable, incomparable, unstoppable man named Jesus.  

I am willing to bet the man with the shriveled hand stood a little taller and more confidently as Jesus endorsed his worth in front of the entire crowd and the highly respected lawmakers. God not only healed this man’s hand but his emotional suffering as well. Jesus validated the worth of all humanity that day. He made his point that following strict Pharisaical laws no longer dictates our value. He changed law into love and spun the direction of our future. Even though Jesus knew this healing would initiate a conspiracy to kill him, he validated the man with the shriveled hand anyway. He did this for all of us. Soon after healing this man physically, Jesus then died for his spiritual healing. Jesus died for the spiritual healing of everyone in that crowd, and he died to forgive and spiritually heal you and me. Love replaced law. We are beneficiaries of the gifts his love bestows if we follow and love him in return.

Jesus had a perfect plan for this imperfect man to have a profound impact on the world. Now was his moment, the day he longed for, his time for restoration! His suffering was finally ending. The man with the shriveled hand, who struggled to find his worth, was used as an example by the living God, which would be recorded in three of the four gospels to exhibit the love and power of God for generation after generation. His story fills us with the hope of restoration and being used by God. God has a plan for us too, and it is perfect, even if it involves pain.

Pain and imperfections in our lives do not equal a lack of love from God, instead they reveal, at the right time, a divine and perfect purpose packed with love. Hold out your hand to him – your weakness, your fear, your shortcomings – and see what he has for you. He loves you. He died to know you.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous rights hand.”

Isaiah 41:10
Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

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