Summary: This is a sermon leads to an invitation to the Lord's Table. It focuses on the man who suffered from a withered hand and helps us to understand that God will heal all the areas in our lives that may suffer from dryness.
Subject: Stretch Forth and Be Healed
Title: The Healing Stretch
This is a sermon leads to an invitation to the Lord's Table. It focuses on the man who suffered from a withered hand and helps us to understand that God will heal all the areas in our lives that may suffer from dryness.
Grace and peace from God our Father and from Jesus Christ our Savior and LORD who came to take away the sin of the world!
Our passage this morning is a very interesting one. It involves a man who coming to a local synagogue somewhere in the area of the Sea of Galilee experienced an amazing encounter with Jesus that lead to a supernatural healing. And if you read most Bible studies and most commentaries that is pretty much all that is said concerning this man or his healing.
Most of them (Bible studies and commentaries) view this man as a mere prop to tell the story of about how Jesus fought with the Pharisees (and other religious authorities) and how the whole issue was about what to do and what not to do on the Sabbath. They then focus on the message that we must never allow ritual and tradition to keep us from bringing healing and wholeness into the lives of others. Finally, they focus on the fact that after this meeting the Jews began to plot how they could destroy Jesus and so the story sets up this ongoing caustic relationship between Jesus and the religious authorities that eventually leads to the Cross.
All of that is definitely a major part of this section of Mark's Gospel and it does deal with the proper use of the Sabbath as well as tell the story of how after this healing, Jesus did find himself forever at odds with the religious zealots of his day.
But in all of Scripture people are not to be seen by God or used by God as mere props or means to tell a story. The man that we find in this passage was real flesh and bone. He was a real human being created in the image of God and no doubt had a family and a host of friends as well. He was also a man who was dealing with a serious health issue. A health issue that could eventually take his life.
Tradition tells us he had been a stone mason. That means that he had made his living by laying bricks and stones and working in the construction business. We are not told what caused his limb to start withering and dying away. We do know for example that such "withering" can happen to a person who contracts polio. The affected limb can begin to atrophy, the muscles and tissue begin to dry up and then waste away.
Such "withering" can also happen when a person has developed a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis. The joint and the muscles and tendons can be so adversely affected that one begin to have what some have labeled a "claw hand". The hands can become so damaged that doing any work that requires any level of dexterity becomes impossible. While this usually affects both hands it can happen on occasion to one hand or limb more than the other.
Such "withering" can also take place when someone has for some reason or the other suffered from nerve damage. Perhaps the man's hand and arm was crushed in an unfortunate accident that resulted in nerve damage and over the years the muscles, skin and tendons began to draw up. It wouldn't have been uncommon in that day for a stone mason to have been involved in some accident involving a large piece of stone.
We all that said, we just don't know what happened to the man. All we know is that he is there in the synagogue no doubt doing his best to remain unseen. Most of us when we have something debilitating that happens to us we do our best not to be seen. We don't want to be the center of attention or to have people ask us embarrassing questions. For example, if we suffer from things like:
+ psoriasis of the skin or some other skin condition - we tend to over dress so that people can't see our skin
+certain diseases like lupus - more and more people who suffer from lupus would rather people not know about their disease
+certain types of cancer like lung cancer which most people will display a measure of sympathy but most also believe that such cancers are self induced and so while there is sympathy there is also a level of judgment as well