2008-12-04 - Showing Our Pain
Mark 3:3 He said to the man with the withered hand, "Get up and come forward!" 4 And He said to them, "Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?" But they kept silent. 5 After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. (NASB)
Jesus is in the midst of a confrontation with the Pharisees. They have planted a man in the congregation to try to trap Him. There is a clear victory for the Lord and a crushing defeat for the mortals trying to spring the trap. There is a lesson in that, but there is something much more subtle going on here too.
Jesus has called a man out of the congregation to come forward. Imagine an itinerate minister asking you to stand up in the congregation. That would be uncomfortable enough. This is not your regular minister after all. But Jesus calls this man not only to stand up but to come to the front of the room in full view of everyone there. Then, to top it all off, Jesus calls to everyone's attention a physical problem. The potential for personal embarrassment is huge.
This gentleman that Jesus called out had a choice to make. He has two hands. Nothing would stop him from extending his good hand. Would he have missed this blessing if he had? The Lord had spent the previous moment in direct confrontation with the Jewish leadership. This may have heartened this man standing and wondering? It was clear that something intense was going on between them. Jesus had healed people before and His reputation had likely preceded Him. The thoughts racing through the mind of the man with the withered hand are unknown, but they probably were at some notable level of turmoil.
The gentleman took the risk, exposing his feeble hand for all there to see - exposing his need and his weakness to everyone. And we read, as he reached out his hand - as he took that simple act of faith - the hand that had been withered was restored to health and usefulness. The gnarled bones were straightened and muscles were strengthened as the hand was extended. The Pharisees had planted the man. There was no refuting the miracle.
This would be no less difficult for any of us to do today. None of us is perfect. We have some weakness, something we are not good at, something we are not comfortable doing, something we would rather not let people see. Most people would rather do almost anything than speak or perform in public. Some would have refused to even come forward as this man Jesus healed came. In that refusal he would have missed this unspeakable gift.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Sometimes the risk is worth the reward. We need to be willing to take off our masks, and let down our guard and be a little vulnerable. Christ accepted us when we were dead in our trespasses and sin. While we were literally at war with God He reached down to us and unlocked the door to Heaven. He could have walked away, but for our sakes He accepted our weakness and made a way for us. If God asks you to take off your mask, trust Him. If someone drops their guard and shares their pain, recognize the risk they are taking in asking for help. In doing this we silence the critics, and Jesus Christ is glorified.
1 John 3:16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (NASB)
Grace & Peace,