Summary: Jesus was challenged by the Pharisees to do the right thing. But what was the right thing to do on the Sabbath with a man with a withered hand?
It’s Never Wrong to Do Right
And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered (right) hand. So they (the Pharisees) watched Him closely, (and asked Him “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day?”) whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse (to bring charges against) Him. (But He knew their thoughts;) And He said to the man who had the withered hand, "Step forward." (to rise into the middle) Then He said to them, ("What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.") "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" But they kept silent. But they were filled with rage, and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.
Introduction – Doing the Right Thing
A funeral director asked a new local minister to preach a funeral for a person with no friends, money, or known relatives. The new minister responded gladly. The directions to the cemetery were vague. It was 8 miles into a wooded area and set for 2 pm. After getting lost and being 45 minutes late, the young minister finally sees two men leaning over their shovel handles near a hole taking a break. He thought this must be it, so he runs over to the hole and begins to speak a few appropriate words about the deceased. One man said "AMEN" and the young minister begin to preach even more earnestly. The 2nd man encouraged the young minister by saying "PREACH IT BROTHER!" After some 30 minutes of hard preaching, the young preacher felt so proud and began walking away. One of the men stopped him and said "Sir, we don’t know who you are, but we have never in our entire career heard such a message over burying a septic tank".
The moral of the story: You may be doing a good thing, but it doesn’t mean you’re doing the right thing. God wants His people to do the right thing, to live the right life and to trust the right Person.
Jesus was constantly challenged by the Pharisees. Here we find Him attending the synagogue and observing the Sabbath. Interestingly, the Pharisees were watching Jesus to catch Him breaking one of their man-made laws. Let’s examine the four things in today’s text.
Notice first, that Jesus had a habit of attending the synagogue.
The CUSTOM was observed 1
The synagogue was a place for IDENTITY. When there were a least ten Jewish men who lived in a city, they had the responsibility to begin a synagogue. It was here that they formed their community. They socialized through it. They worshiped in it. The synagogue was their identity as God’s people. We also find that it was a place for INSTRUCTIONS. It was here that they were to hear God’s Word explained. The rabbi’s or synagogue leader had the task to educate God’s people on how to live before God. Too often though, they focused on the legalistic “doing” more than trusting the Word. And then we find it was a place for IMPERFECTIONS. Imperfect people came to the synagogue to be changed inwardly.
The church is really a reflection of the synagogue. It should be our custom to attend and participate. The church body is the body of Christ. We have a unique identity. We are His body. We should help others come to know Jesus. We are to receive our instructions on growing in grace, loving the unlovable, touching the untouchable and reaching the unreachable. And the church ought to be a place for imperfections. The church is a spiritual hospital for spiritually sick people. Jesus is the Great Physician! Only He can heal our bruises and wounds.
Illustration – The Fern & the Bamboo
One day a man decided to quit...he quit his job, his relationships, his spirituality... he wanted to quit his life. So he went to the woods to have one last talk with God. "God", he said. "Can you give me one good reason not to quit?" God’s answer surprised him..."Look around", He said. "Do you see the fern and the bamboo?" "Yes", he replied. "When I planted the fern and the bamboo seeds, I took very good care of them. I gave them light. I gave them water. The fern quickly grew from the earth. Its brilliant green covered the floor. Yet nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo. In the second year the Fern grew more vibrant and plentiful. And again, nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo. In year three there was still nothing from the bamboo seed. But I would not quit. In year four, again, there was nothing from the bamboo seed. I would not quit. Then in the fifth year a tiny sprout emerged from the earth. Compared to the fern it was seemingly small and insignificant...But just 6 months later the bamboo rose to over 100 feet tall. It had spent the five years growing roots. Those roots made it strong and gave it what it needed to survive. I would not give any of my creations a challenge it could not handle." He said to the man. "Did you know all this time that you have been struggling, you have actually been growing roots?" "I would not quit on the bamboo and I will never quit on you."