Luke shares another Sabbath day story with us today. In Matthew the story from yesterday and today appeared to happen on the same day. Luke breaks them up into two different days. Luke isn’t concerned with chronology in his accounts, just the incidents.
I would like to look at the man who received his healing in this story. He did several noteworthy things. Jesus did the work, but because of the man’s willingness to follow Jesus’ instructions, he was able to receive what Jesus had for him.
When Jesus came into the synagogue He knew the scribes and Pharisees were laying a trap for Him. He started out His day in the synagogue like any other Sabbath day. He read and taught the people the truths contained in the reading. I wonder what it was He taught on that day. Did it have anything to do with healing, faith, or God’s provision for the hurting people? We won’t know until we ask in person because both writers who shared this story were not prompted to share that detail.
Jesus also prepared to do the second most normal thing for Him; help the hurting. The problem was that it was the Sabbath. Not a problem to Jesus, but certainly a problem in the Pharisees and scribes’ minds. Jesus had healed before on the Sabbath, when He freed the demon possessed man and when He healed Peter’s mother-in-law. Both of those took place on one Sabbath. On that same Sabbath, as soon as it had ended, MULTITUDES came to Him for healing. Today He wasn’t going to wait until evening.
Here is where the man’s actions come into play. Jesus singled the man out in the crowd. What drew Jesus’ attention to the man’s condition? Was he trying to be noticed by Jesus, was he being as inconspicuous as possible, or was simply sitting there listening to Jesus’ teaching? Jesus called him out and told him to come and stand by Him. The man had a choice to make. He could either do as Jesus said and see what He had in store, or he could pretend he didn’t know who Jesus was talking to. Did the man have any idea what Jesus had planned for him? With Jesus’ reputation for healing, he probably was hoping for time with Jesus at some point in His visit.
The man chose to stand and walk over to where Jesus was. This not only put him next to Jesus physically but also identified him as sympathetic to Jesus’ cause in the Pharisees’ eyes. Now he was their target too. But that didn’t stop him.
Jesus then addresses the Pharisees hidden agenda. He knew their hearts and their tactics. His deep inspection of the law got under their skin, but there was nothing they could do about it; other than to try and intimidate Him and the man with their stares.
The man showed confidence and commitment to Jesus’ instructions as he quietly waited for Jesus next command. Luke tells us that “after looking around at them all” Jesus told the man to stretch out his hand. First off, I want to point out another decision point for this man. He had to decide whether to follow Jesus’ instructions again or not. He could have stopped his own healing right then by refusing to display his withered hand. I don’t doubt that he had it hidden in the folds of his robe as much as possible. Was his hand in plain view when Jesus called him out or we he hiding it? He chose to be vulnerable and expose his deformity.
That choice was all Jesus needed to see. As soon as the man reached out his hand it became whole. No more hiding. No more waiting and hoping for an audience with Jesus. He had just received exactly what he needed under the watchful eyes of his friends and neighbors, along with the scrutiny of the Pharisees.
There was no denying this healing by the Pharisees. They saw it happen in real time. They weren’t hearing about it after the fact. They were first hand observers. This made them hopping mad. They would retreat and to come up with another plan.
Who knows how many people were inspired in the synagogue that day to seek help from Jesus. They found the courage in our man’s courage to approach Jesus too. I wonder if they waited until after sunset.
Have you ever felt called out by God to take a step? Deciding to take that step can mean the difference between the blessing He has for you or continuing on with whatever struggle you are facing. Know this, that when God calls you to take a step, be it little or big, that He has taken the rest of the steps to meet you. That step may seem as scary as stepping off a cliff or as insignificant as moving over on the couch. But that step is you answer to God that says you are actually ready. Ready to turn loose of whatever it is that has you bound, or ready to be used by Him in a brand new way.
Thank You Father for all the little steps You have called me to take in my life. Those little ones looked insignificant but they were my training ground. Seeing Your faithfulness in each of those times grew my faith for the bigger ones. One of my biggest fears though has always been KNOWING that it was YOU calling me to take the step instead of me trying to do something on my own. Even when I wasn’t sure, You were still there on the other side of the step. You either congratulated me for having the faith or walked me back to the place You had me waiting in. Never did I fall without You knowing and being right there beside me. Continue to direct my steps God, all the way home.