Short Meditations in Mark’s Gospel: 50. Jesus Unbowed
Mk 3:3,4 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
We have to learn something: Jesus, the Son of God is not intimidated by human beings! Today, it doesn’t matter whether it is military dictators seeking to suppress the church, antagonistic world religions demon and man energised, or political dogma that is threatened by the Church, Jesus is not intimidated and will not veer off the course his Father has set him!
One thing the Gospels show us is that Jesus always knew what was going on in the minds of those around him, so when he enters this synagogue he knows straight away that there are those there who are thinking hostile thoughts about him. He knows the challenge is not to heal on the Sabbath.
Now we aren’t told what went on in his mind; we are just left to surmise that. We must assume that Jesus was moved by compassion for this man and that compassion overcame any doubts or questions about upsetting the Pharisees. But it seems to go further than that because Jesus doesn’t quietly go over to him and heal him. No, instead he makes this a very public issue. He gets the man to stand up out front so that everyone can see him. He knows what he is going to do for this man and he wants everyone there to clearly see it. After this happens they will never be able to say that they had doubts about Jesus’ ability to heal.
But he goes a step further. He actually challenges the Pharisees. Now we must assume that it is them that he is challenging because they are the ones mentioned at the end who were so upset. This is not only an opportunity for healing; it is also an opportunity for teaching. So, he challenges them, is it lawful to do good or evil, save life or lose it on the Sabbath? i.e. are you forbidding the doing good on this day simply to conform to your rules? That is what this boils down to!
Now I think this often arises in good churches, churches that even seek to do God’s will and maintain order. The trouble is that sometimes doing good means disorder. Does a little disorder matter if God is given space to bless and move in power and bring salvation? God is more concerned for people than for our sense of order. Think on it!