He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
Jesus got angry for good reason. He saw the trap. In synagogue on sabbath the religious leaders waited to see what Jesus would do about a man in the congregation with a withered hand. What angered Him wasn’t that the man needed healing, nor even that there was debate whether such a condition that had persisted probably for years might wait one more day. What angered Jesus was the religious leaders’ hardness of heart. This expression describes how our will can be “dead set” against something good. Have you noticed that sometimes it seems arguing makes no difference? That debating only makes for even more hardening? Jesus’ anger shows us how God feels when our minds and hearts are “dead set” against doing His good pleasure. Jesus does not argue theology or scripture. He has the man stretch out his hand in front of His critics. The act of compassionate healing is His “argument”. In the end there is no more persuasive argument that can change hard hearts toward God. He must act in us so that He can act through us. Restoring this man’s hand foreshadows what God in Jesus accomplished on the cross to defeat all that defeats and entraps people. Our Lord opens hearts and minds, yours and mine, and those difficult people we live around every day by doing what Jesus did that day.
“Lord, help me see when it’s time to stop talking about my position on the issues and begin to demonstrate your love in acts of healing and helping.”