PMT 2014-057b by Don Strickland
Departing from there, He went into their synagogue. And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, ” Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” — so that they might accuse Him. And He said to them, ” What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.
There are some familiar Bible passages that we read or heard over and over that our minds do not see the true situation. Take the passage above for instance. We read through it. We see the Pharisee’s laying a theological trap for Jesus – daring Him to heal a man, so that they might accuse Him of working on the Sabbath. . . . Ummm, wait a moment. Back up.
Have we not missed something? In your mind’s eye, place yourself in that synagogue almost 2000 years ago. There is a man present that everyone has known for years. His hand is useless – whithered and deformed. And in steps a teacher from Galilee, who begins to have a theological discussion with the synagogue leaders over what activities are allowed on the Sabbath. They point to the man with a deformed hand, essentially challenging the teacher to heal him.
Does that situation not seem odd to you? The Pharisee’s knew Jesus’s power. They knew He could heal the man. And they were wanting to use that divine ability against Him! Let’s go over this again. You know he can heal. He heals a man right there in front of you. And you go out to plot His death? Should not they have been struck with complete and utter awe over such an occurrence? A man was miraculously healed! What hardness of heart!
Philip Melanchthon, Martin Luther’s protegee, was the one to develop the Reformation understanding of faith as having three elements: notitia (knowledge of the facts), assensus (believe the facts are true), and fiducia (trust or commitment). The first two elements are good, but are not enough for salvation. It is trust which is necessary for a person to be saved. Demons know and believe in the truth (Jm 2.19), but it creates fear in them, not faith. And we can see something similar in this passage. The synagogue leaders knew and believed that Jesus could heal. But because they did not have the faith that saves (trust), they too responded in fear and hate.
So how do we respond? Are we slow to trust in the promises God has made to His people? Do we
practice trusting God in all the ways He works? For instance, when God says that all things will work together for our good (Rm 8.28), do we still complain about the path He has chosen for us to walk? The above question is not implying that we do not feel hurt and disappointed at times. We will. It is a question of trusting Him even in the pain.