Blog

Stories from a life in progress.

My part in this

A while ago I felt the Spirit of God nudging me back to the story told in Mark 3, where Jesus heals a man with a withered hand.  It's familiar to me, because it's the story which started this blog and gave it a name.

I'm not completely sure what God's purpose is for showing me this, but if you will permit me to think out loud, kind readers, I'll tell you what I have so far.

The story is very short, but a ton of things are happening here, both stated and implied:

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there.  Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath.  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.

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.  Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

So many intentions, so many cross-purposes shown in so few words.  Note that some of Jesus' enemies are present, and they are keeping a sharp eye on him.  If he does anything "wrong" at all, anything which goes against their understanding of religious law, they are determined to catch him at it.  Jesus is not going to get away with any furtive, sneaky healing on their watch.

But Jesus has no intention of hiding.  He asks a man who needs a miracle to stand right up in front of the whole community.  He pointedly asks them what the Sabbath is for: doing good, or doing nothing?

He heals the man.  He makes sure everyone can see it.

The Pharisees get the evidence they want.  They take it away and start plotting Jesus' murder.

None of the individuals in the story speak all of their purposes, but it's clear from the actions shown they are pursuing multiple ends -- especially Jesus.  Yes, his direct action is to heal a man in desperate need.  But look how he goes about it.  There are other instances in which Jesus specifically takes people out of the public eye in order to heal them.  He asks this man to step into the public eye with him, right into the spotlight.  Jesus wants this miracle to be absolutely visible and clear.  He makes a lesson out of it, using the opportunity to both speak and demonstrate what the Sabbath and the Law are really intended for.  He also intentionally hands his enemies the evidence they are hoping for.  Jesus already knows where that story is heading, and he takes a deliberate step to push it forward.

So, in the midst of all this plotting and counterplotting, where does the healed man fit in?

I don't know if he had any clue about all of the silent, potent intentions hovering around this event.  Maybe he did and maybe not; the story doesn't say.

What is clear is that he wasn't behind any of them.  His job, his only part in this scene, is to stand up with Jesus when Jesus asks him to.

Nothing else.  He's not conspiring with Jesus to show up the Pharisees in their hard-hearted mistakes.  He certainly didn't know anything about the ultimate purpose Jesus was working toward.

He had a big problem.  He obediently stood up.  He received an enormous gift.  That's all.

This really matters to me right now, because the healed man is the one I identify with.  I think he's my lesson.

I don't know what purposes Jesus is pursuing around my life and circumstances.  He is under no obligation to tell me.  I do know that he is the ultimate chess-master, the consummate strategist.  A single action of his can pursue so many goals at once, that if we could see them all we would be struck speechless by the depth and breadth of his designs and reach.

I don't know much at all about Jesus' plans.  All I really know is that I have problems, and he has asked me to stand up and talk about them.  That's all I'm responsible for.

Am I an object lesson for someone?  Maybe.  It's not my job to plan that.

Will one of Jesus' enemies read what I say and hate him all the more, and try to do him harm?  Maybe.  That isn't my responsibility to either anticipate or prevent.  It's not my job to manage anyone else's thoughts or actions.

Is there a chance my story will encourage someone, or teach someone, or help someone else to hear my Healer's voice in a new way?  Maybe.  I hope so, actually.  But I don't know, and it's not my job to bring that about.

I have problems and I need help.  Jesus has asked me to bring some of them into the public eye.  I don't know why and it doesn't actually matter.  My job, my part in this scene, is to obey.  The rest is up to him.