When I read the story of the man with the withered hand (in Matt 12, Mark 3 and Luke 6) I ask myself these questions?
1. The Lord Jesus healed many on the Sabbath day. He also healed many when He came to the synagogue. What is He saying about the Sabbath? Does it not point to Him? That He is our Sabbath rest, our Sabbath healing, our Sabbath restoration.
2. Why does the Holy Spirit draw our attention to the man with the withered hand, by saying: Behold, there was a man with a withered hand, Matt 12.10 (KJV). What is the significance of that ‘Behold!’?
3. Why were the scribes and Pharisees watching Him closely? Why were they waiting for Him to heal the man and ‘violate their Sabbath’? Why were they so blind to that which was good?
4. Why were the scribes and Pharisees ‘filled with fury’ (Luke 6.11) and wanted to do away with Jesus? What is behind that rage?
5. What is the significance of our Lord’s words in Matt 12.11,12 (which are not found in Mark or Luke – though I would have expected those words to be there in Luke)? Do they not show the Lord Jesus as the Shepherd who cares for His sheep?
6. How could the Lord Jesus tell the man to “Stretch out your hand!”, knowing that it was impossible for the man to do so? Does it not show that God is the God of the impossible? Does it also not show that faith transcends ‘human reasoning’?
7. The Lord’s command to the man. First, “Get up and come forward”, Mark 3.3. And then, “Stretch out your hand!”, Mark 3.5. Does it not show us something about the man himself. That he had to come forward and ‘stand up’ for Jesus? And does it not show the man’s willingness? That is all that is required: our willingness to place ourselves in God’s hands, to be willing to obey Him – the obedience of faith!
8. And should we not ask: What a contrast between the Lord Jesus and those Jewish religious leaders! One has such a loving heart; the others have hearts that are hardened. What is the reason? Though they have the Scriptures, these Pharisees have made a ‘religion’ out of God’s Word. It is all letter and man-made law (rules and regulations). Where is the Spirit? They have never understood the Person behind the Scriptures – God Himself, God manifesting Himself through the Lord Jesus Christ. No, it’s not religion that we want; but it’s a relationship with the living and loving Saviour.
9. There is so much depth in God’s Word. Spurgeon tell us that when the Lord gave the command, He gave the ‘enablement’ also. Oh, the marvel of God’s grace. The things that are impossible with men are possible with God. And how? By faith! By taking a leap out of man’s wisdom and reasoning and casting oneself on the absolute goodness and wisdom of the Lord. Can we make that leap?
Friends, we need to meditate on God’s Word, by asking the Lord to reveal the truth behind it – and that truth is deep, it is spiritual, and it reveals more of the Lord Himself. While it reveals our Saviour, Shepherd and gracious God, it also reveals the wickedness of man. There is a natural hostility towards God in every one of us – it is part of the old Adam. We suspect God, we can’t believe what He says, and we refuse to accept His absolute and abundant goodness and grace. Oh, the depravity of the human heart. No wonder, God says: I will take out that hardened heart of yours, and give you a new heart! Ezek 36.26.