Today's Lectionary Text
On another sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would cure on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. Even though he knew what they were thinking, he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” He got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?” After looking around at all of them, he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
The man was called forward to stand near Jesus. Maybe he was expecting to just sit in the back and listen to Jesus in the service. No need to call attention to himself. People already knew him due to the problem with his hand. “Withered” is the word the NRSV uses to describe the hand.
Jesus speaks to “them.” The ones who were concerned about doing things the right way. And Jesus is pretty clear when he says to them in verse 9, “I ask you, it is lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or destroy it?”
I struggle at times with knowing what to do. Is it doing good, or harm, by my action or inaction? Jesus shows us that we are to step out in our faith to serve and be served. I recognize my own brokenness when I just want to sit somewhere out of sight, out of mind. Yet Jesus calls me forward. And Jesus calls to you also. We all carry something which causes us hardship.
But Jesus is not willing to let the hardship keep this man from healing even if it fell on the wrong day of the week. I am willing to let this be an example for the ways we are to be in community with others we don’t see eye to eye with. Healing may be possible even when we are too focused on who is right and who is wrong. On who is doing good and who is doing harm. Maybe Jesus is calling us to realize that being willing to save a life is more important that destroying those around us.
--Rev. Jo Mead
Wichita University UMC
Prayer for Reflection
Gracious and loving Creator, may we see each other with the eyes of compassion instead of the fingers pointing to rules that are not yours. May we know that you are yet creating the world and the people with hopes of reconciliation and deep shalom for all. May it be so. Amen.
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