Summary: Sermon on healing of a withered hand and opposition of Pharisees to Jesus’ ministry. Emphasis on anger, appropriate and inappropriate.
Hot and Cold Anger Mark 3:1-7 (“If Looks Could Kill”)
INTRO.: There are really two kinds of anger. There is hot, fiery anger that sometimes becomes belligerent when not held in check. This kind of person rants and raves when he loses control of his temper. Then there is cold anger. I have a friend whose anger is characteristically cold. When he becomes angry his eyes narrow, his voice becomes very level, never loud, and he speaks slowly and deliberately. As he speaks, he is plotting ways to get satisfaction.
In the story before us we see both kinds of anger displayed. First, let’s check out the background of the story as we see it in the second chapter of Mark.
In the first part of the chapter, Jesus heals a man lowered through the roof of a home in Capernaum. There is great wonder and rejoicing, but a group of teachers, Pharisees, sit coldly by and criticize Jesus under their breathe.
At Matthew’s house, they again criticize Him for eating with tax collectors and sinners. Next, they criticize Him and His disciples for picking grain to eat on the Sabbath day. By this time, they are covertly looking for ways to silence Him. Their anger is cold and calculating.
You see, events are building toward a confrontation with these cold and calculating hypocritical religious leaders. It erupts in a synagogue in a little Galilean town. Tempers flare and the battle lines are drawn.
I hope we can learn from this story when anger is appropriate and when it is not. Most of all, I want us to see the Servant of God and learn something about His anger and His compassion.
I. The story centers around a crippled man who was in the synagogue.
A. We are told he had a “shriveled hand.” Dr, Luke, with his usual medical precision tells us it was his right hand.
1. The word in the original, I am told, designates a condition of recent origin. Perhaps he had a stroke within the last year or two that had paralyzed him and his hand had atrophied from lack of use.
2. He would not be able to tie his shoes, button his shirt, or do many of the things we take for granted without a great deal of effort.
3. But he was able to travel about and he was in the synagogue. Since there is no evidence to the contrary, we must assume he was there to worship, or perhaps to try to get Jesus’ attention and help.
B. He was severely handicapped. There were no charitable institutions or organizations to champion his cause.
1. Many Jews considered this kind of problem to be the punishment for his own sin.
2. The medical science of his day had nothing to offer and he was thought to be beyond hope. But, Jesus had healed many like him and no doubt he found new hope in the Presence of Jesus, having heard of His wonders.
C. To both Jesus and the Pharisees, he presented an opportunity. Each saw him as an opportunity to further their cause.
1. The Pharisees, already angry with Jesus, saw in the crippled man an opportunity to accuse Him of breaking their legalistic regulations regarding the Sabbath. Their traditions made it unlawful to practice medicine on the Sabbath unless a life was in danger or a sick person would become worse if not treated. They watched to see if Jesus would open Himself to criticism by healing on the Sabbath in violation of their tradition.
2. Jesus saw in the crippled man an opportunity to teach a lesson on the worthlessness of empty religion and the superiority of compassion over tradition.
3. There is also the steady movement toward confrontation. The Pharisees have put themselves in position to act overtly against Him and He seems ready to challenge them.
II. The cold calculating anger of the Pharisees is clearly seen as He calls the crippled man forward to stand before everyone.
A. These were, mind you, the religious and civil authorities in the community. Most folk feared and revered them as God’s spokesmen.
1. They knew Him well, for they watched the poor suffering man to see if Jesus would help Him. They didn’t watch the wealthy and powerful to see how He would relate to them. In a way, they complimented Him, acknowledging He had come to serve “the sick.” 2:17.
2. They would have been seated on the front row, the “chief seats.” That’s why Jesus called the man to stand up in front of everyone. This would be done in plain sight so there would be no question as to the validity of the healing or the statement Jesus was making.
3. They were in Church for the wrong reason. Not to worship God and seek His will, but to seek a way to destroy Jesus.