Withered Hand

May 3, 2009
by Kathleen Ageton

Mark 3:3-5 – [Jesus] said to the man with the withered hand, "Rise and come forward!" And He said to them, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save a life or to kill?" But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. (NASB)

I took a rare day off work recently. My son was in school, and I knew I would have the day alone. I had plans — big plans. I was going to vacuum, dust, do my taxes, write letters, catch up on laundry, file all the papers that had gathered on my desk, scrub the tub, etc. The list was ambitious, but I knew I could do it if I just set my mind to it. I knew, however, that I needed some kind of reward, something to motivate me to keep going. So, I decided that after each chore on my list was completed, I would play one game of computer solitaire. You can probably imagine the results. Chores came secondary to solitaire, and next thing I knew, it was evening, and there were very few checkmarks of completion on my chore list. I felt like I deserved a resounding kick in the butt. I scolded myself and berated myself and felt that familiar voice in my head saying, "You're such a loser."

The next morning, I read some Scripture — the story about the man with the withered hand, whom Jesus healed in the synagogue. What did this man have to show for himself? A withered hand. There were no works presented, no résumé, no list of good deeds completed. Jesus was aware of the man and the man's desire to be healed. Jesus said to the man, "Rise and come forward!" and "Stretch out your hand." For healing, for restoration to happen, the man had to do only two things: obey when Jesus told him to come to Him and then to stretch out his hand. What if the man had come to Jesus but had not stretched out his hand when Jesus told him to? Would Jesus have healed him? I don't know. Was the man ashamed of his hand? Was it a faith struggle for the man to show Jesus his useless hand? I don't know. Did the man understand that the Pharisees who were present were looking for an opportunity to criticize Jesus and that Jesus' performing a healing would be perfect fodder for them? Again, I don't know. What I do know is that the man was desperate. Never mind political correctness, never mind the opinions of the spectators, never mind the rules that said you shouldn't heal (or seek healing?) on the Sabbath. The man was focused on Jesus and fixed on the fact that he needed healing.

What did I have to present to the Lord that morning? What did I have to show? My own "withered hand". No works, no accomplishments, no list of completed tasks. What did Jesus want from me? That withered hand. Just as He was moved with compassion by the man with the withered hand, He is moved with compassion for me and for you. His requirements? We are to come to Him, to show Him our need. We need to be desperate for Him. Let not the voices of criticism (self or others) hinder any one of us from bringing our own withered hand to Him.

Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, that Your requirements are so simple. Thank You for Your compassion when we show You our neediness. Help us not to let anyone or anything get in the way of coming to You. We love You. Amen.

About the author:

Kathleen Ageton <katbabc@hotmail.com>
Wailuku, Hawaii, USA

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