Withered Hand

Mike Connell

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And Jesus came to this man. I want you to see what happened. It's quite possible that they did not let people who were crippled in a synagogue, so it's quite possible that the Jewish ruler set this one up, to see what Jesus would do. So Jesus walks in the synagogue, and He saw the man with the withered hand. It was pretty hard to hide the thing, no matter how hard you try. He saw it, and here's the thing; the synagogue, the local church, is a place for people to discover the heart of God, and to connect with God, and to be released into their ministry, into the call of God in their life. It's not to be filled with laws, and do's and don'ts, and criticism and judgement, and pettiness and position-seeking, backbiting and all of that kind of stuff. It's not to do with that at all. It's a place of worship - He said: my house will be a house of prayer; and so the local church is a gathering of people, to inspire people to serve, and Jesus came in.

When He came into the church, this is what He saw. He saw a man with a withered hand, but He saw something else. He saw a coldness, and a hardness in the hearts of people, and so He provoked a fight. Now sometimes people think that Jesus is a sissy person - not so. He's a man of intense courage, immense courage, and so many times He would confront things quite strongly, quite boldly. Often it was in the synagogue. Even in the temple, He took to them all with a whip, and drove out all the money changers.

See, this Jesus we serve is not just a nice, gentle person. He's courageous to face injustice. When you look at the same story in Mark, it's interesting because it adds in some details that Luke doesn't write, and it says in Mark 3: He looked around, and He was angry. He was furious. Often you don't think of Jesus being angry. You think of Jesus being nice and smiley. You think of Jesus, you want to think of smiley Jesus, not think of an angry Jesus. It's not a nice thought at all - but He was angry. Now He was angry about something. The Bible says: He was angry, He was angry, being grieved or in great sorrow over this man's condition, and the hardness of heart, or the lack of compassion and care there was in the church of that day, to that man's needs. That's what He was grieved about.

If Jesus was to stand here physically in the church today, and to look around, the same thing that made Him angry then, would make Him angry today. He said: He looked around; that's why He picked a fight. He said: He knew what they were thinking. He knew that these people, all these religious people had in mind, they were law keepers. The Bible tells us that they were hypocrites. They lived one thing on the outside, and another thing on the inside. They put on a show for people, so they looked good. They're like church-wise people; been around church a long time, and they look okay on the outside, and know how to behave and perform, but inside no heart and passion for God, and no care for the people God's concerned about. That's what this was about - and so He stood up, and He saw the man; and He gave three commandments to the man: two of them, and then He put a challenge in the middle of it, and then He gave the third commandment.

The first two were very simple commands. He said to the man: rise up, or wake up; and then I want you to stand up, come over here and stand by me. Two commands; rise up in your spirit; stand up where you are, and come and stand next to me. Now that's not nice to get a handicapped person, and make a feature of him, and bring him out the front, you know? It's not politically correct to do that kind of stuff is it? He brought the handicapped man up, but He knows what He's going to do. See, the heart of God is always to restore and to heal. Jesus represents what the heart of God does, and He's both angry when there's religious indifference to the needs of people; and He's also stirred by the needs of people.