Summary: Ninth in a series on the Miracles of Jesus.
The Miracles of Jesus
Miracle # 9
“Jesus Heals the Man With The Withered Hand”
(Matt 12:9-14, Mk. 3:1-6, Lk. 6:6-11)
Jesus has just healed the man at the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath. Now as He and his disciples pass through a field, they pick some grain on the Sabbath. This once again aroused the anger of the Pharisees. Although it must be noted that this is entirely permissible according to the law for one traveling to pluck enough heads of grain to satisfy his hunger.
As we have noted in the previous lesson in the time of Jesus, the Sabbath had become a tyranny with hundreds of rules and regulations which laid out in detail what a man might or might not do. The original Ten Commandments of God had been delineated into 613 laws; 248 positive (thou shalt’s) and 365 negative (thou shalt not’s). Jesus “discriminates between the spiritual principles of rest and the worship and service of God for which the day was dedicated, and the useless junk of endless hair- splitting distinctions and prohibitions of the Rabbis.” [J.W. Shepard. “The Christ of the Gospel.” (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1939) p. 161]
“Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. (10) And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?" ——that they might accuse Him. (11) 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? (12) "Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." (13) Then He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. (14) Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.
“Now it happened on another Sabbath, also, that He entered the synagogue and taught. And a man was there whose right hand was withered. (7) So the scribes and Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath, that they might find an accusation against Him. (8) But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, "Arise and stand here." And he arose and stood. (9) Then Jesus said to them, "I will ask you one thing: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy?" (10) And when He had looked around at them all, He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And he did so, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. (11) But they were filled with rage, and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.”
“And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. (2) So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. (3) And He said to the man who had the withered hand, "Step forward." (4) Then He said to them, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" But they kept silent. (5) 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. (6) Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.”
The Background of the Miracle
Teaching in the Synagogue
Another Sabbath controversy arose when Jesus went into the local synagogue and was teaching. The synagogue service was different from what we are use to in the church. The services there were always characterized by a certain amount of informality. After the prayers were said and scripture had been read; then came an explanation of the scripture or sermon. No particular person had responsibility for speaking, any Rabbi or distinguished visitor could upon the invitation of the president or ruler of the synagogue deliver the message. After the message there was a time for discussion and argumentation. It is highly probable that it is part of the service that the miracle occurs.
In the congregation on this particular Sabbath was a man with a withered hand. Since the Pharisees and scribe were there hoping that Jesus would heal the man so they could accuse him, some have suggested that the scribes and Pharisees arranged for the man to be in the synagogue.