Again, Jesus entered the synagogue. A man, who had a paralyzed hand, was there and some people watched Jesus: would he heal the man on the sabbath? If he did, they could accuse him.
Jesus said to the man with the paralyzed hand, “Stand here in the center.” Then he asked them, “What does the Law allow us to do on the Sabbath? To do good or to do harm? To save life or to kill?” But they were silent.
Then Jesus looked around at them with anger and deep sadness, because they had closed their minds. And he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was healed. As soon as the Pharisees left, they met with Herod’s supporters, looking for a way to destroy Jesus.
Jesus uses the occasion of his healing the man with a withered hand on a Sabbath to demonstrate his uncompromising commitment to love, compassion and truth against the legalism and close-mindedness of the Pharisees. Being hard hearted and close-minded are not new to humanity. These tendencies attack us when we hold on to something external, such as the Law, as our source of security. These tendencies can lead us to obsess over little things or ideas that do not fit our usual way of thinking and doing. Jesus’ healing on a Sabbath was to the Pharisees something out of place and against their understanding of the Law. The controversy evokes intense feelings and dark motives. Jesus was filled with “anger and deep sadness,” while the Pharisees were plotting “to destroy Jesus.” Hard hearts produce hard thoughts. We see this in the political arena today: the inability to listen and respect the opposing side and the tendency to malign the reputation of the rival. The same is true in the religious sphere. We can be intolerant of those who think and believe differently from us. Jesus invites us to be open-minded and see the good even in tense-filled and unexpected situations.
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