Midweek Minute in Mark Jan 27
Ben Valentine

A Man with a Withered Hand
3 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

Our Reading today is Mark 3:1-6.

Some years ago, I attended a worship event, an evening to meet with God, surrounded by worship music and prayer as well as times of silent reflection.

As the night progressed, breaking through the silence were the periodic sounds of someone interjecting and making noises in the back of the room. Necks craned, trying to see where this sound was coming from. Eyes darted, some with frustration or even indignation that this reverent space would be interrupted. 

And yet, later in the evening, every assumption or judgment fell flat. In the back of the room, sitting with a few family members, was an individual with significant developmental disabilities. In that moment, everyone’s questions had been answered. The noise we all heard was joyful noise coming from a dear child of God. It didn’t fit the cultural expectations or the religious parameters that people were used to, but it was a beautiful picture of the heart of worship. 

It’s possible to be in church and still miss God’s heart. In today’s passage, we find the religious leaders enamored with the details of religious practice (sabbath-keeping) and their appearance of religious perfection while remaining callous to the actual human suffering of a man who was unable to use his hand. 

Jesus sees the heart of the matter – are we more concerned with ourselves or the life-giving presence of God? Jesus confronts this posture in everyone who claims to follow him. What good is worship or religious practice that ignores or condemns the very ones who should be helped and honored?

Jesus always moves toward our pain, he goes out of his way, even at personal inconvenience or suffering, to care for those who need him.

Today, where are we in this story? Where are the blindspots in our lives? Who might we be missing? 

Pray: Jesus, give me a new heart and new eyes to see the people and needs around me. I thank you because you see everything I am, and still love me. Help me to extend that same love to others.