“He went on from there and entered their synagogue. And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him. He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.”
Matthew 12:9-14 ESV
In the synagogue, among religious leaders and worshippers, there was a man with a withered hand. This man had probably been attending the “church” for some time. The leaders obviously had noticed him. The other “church members” also probably knew him. But it seemed none had brought him to Jesus for healing all this while. He was a left-alone handicapped person in the church. Are there many such similar “abandoned” members in today’s church? Worship Services after Worship Services, programmes after programmes, trainings after trainings, ceremonies after ceremonies come and go. It becomes almost something routine and non-event every week where this man with a need in the church was neglected. Are there ignored needs in the church today? Sometimes, programs and activities blind people from seeing real needs. Has the church lost its first love in the midst of lots of activities going on? (like the Ephesus Church in Rev 2)
The moment Jesus stept in, He immediately noticed this man for the first time. Then suddenly out of the blue, the religious leaders’ attention turned to the handicapped man as well as Jesus. Not to show concern. Not to get Jesus to heal the man. Their motive was to frame Jesus for violating the Sabbath knowingly that Jesus was likely to heal the man. They cornered Jesus by the question “is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” See, this synagogue (or church) was only interested in observance of the law but not on the needs of its members. Is this happening in the modern church where church “preliminaries” or “traditional norms” or “corporate policies” displace the meeting of needs?
After the man was healed, the first thing the religious leaders did was “they went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.” They did not rejoice at the healing of the man. In fact they were indignant that they were not able to win Jesus at the dialogue. All in their heart was how to tear Him down. When you carry a wrong agenda in serving, people getting saved or healed doesn’t make you praise God.
1. If you are a church leader or someone who decide to serve in a church, evaluate the motivation of your calling or rather your response to the calling. Jesus’ ministry always focus on people, not programmes, activities or traditions. What are yours?
2. On a whole, the church’s mission is to meet needs. A heartening scene Jesus hopes to see in His church is people meeting each others’ needs, people encouraging each other and people loving each other genuinely through practical act of kindness. The call of the end time is that believers will not lose their first love and that their love for each other will not grow cold!