Scripture Reading: Mark 3:1-6
Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
Doesn’t it bewilder you that religious leaders can be so filled with hate they become hell bent on destroying someone filled with love? Consider today’s passage. There is a man with a withered hand. Luke mentions it was his right hand, suggesting his handicap affected his livelihood. He is in the synagogue, praying, which indicates he is a man of faith. Don’t the religious leaders feel sorry for him? Probably not. They probably felt the man deserved it, because in their warped logic they believed his handicap was a result of his sin.
Then Jesus, who feels sorrow for the man, heals him. Instead of being happy that one of their people was healed, Scripture says they began looking at ways in how to destroy him! Why? One reason is perhaps pure jealousy — he was able to do things that they could only dream of doing. Another reason is because he posed a challenge to their rule. As the saying goes, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This corruption isn’t exclusive to politicians, but also to people of a religious persuasion.
Now, the Pharisees didn’t have the benefit of years of listening to Jesus; they just heard him speak from time to time. They were also ignorant of who he really was; at their time Jesus hadn’t died and risen again so one might understand their skepticism about Jesus being the Son of God. But our religious leaders don’t have these excuses. They have listened about Jesus for years; they know he is God. So, why do some of them act like the Pharisees, filled with hate instead of love, vindictive instead of forgiving, vicious instead of kind? For the same reasons the Pharisees were, perhaps. Or perhaps simply because they never discovered the love and mercy of Christ.
For every bad leader, however, there are a hundred good leaders. Like Nicodemus was a good leader among the Pharisees, there are good leaders among us. They reflect Christ in their attitude towards others, especially the broken and the sinful. However, like Nicodemus, they too are afraid of their peers. Not surprisingly, because those who seek power can do terrible things, as we saw the Pharisees do to Jesus. But the good leaders — and all of us who consider ourselves good people — should not keep quiet. We should all remember the words of Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
The world is full of broken people who need healing like the man with the withered hand. They need Jesus. Let us help take them to him. Or at least not stop those who do.