Pharis caught sight of the familiar, brown-headed man walking into the synagogue. He sat up straight and whacked his comrade in the shoulder. "He's here," he hissed.
His friend, Rash, looked where Pharis was pointing. "Good. It's about time he got here."
Pharis raised an eyebrow at his old friend. "So what are we going to do?"
"We will wait for him to slip up." Rash nodded towards Jesus. "He always does sooner or later."
They didn't have to wait long. A feeble old man soon hobbled into the synagogue. He hair was white as snow, he had age spots all over his face, and he couldn't even stand straight. The man had his hand tucked into this robe, clearly trying to hide it.
Pharis nudged Rash again. He spotted the man immediately and jumped to his feet. "Let's go get him," he said, a huge grin of triumph splitting his face.
Gallivanting over to where Jesus stood surrounded by his horde of unsavory men, Pharis smirked. Jesus was about to get trapped. The man couldn't resist healing people. He spent days healing the sick.
"Tell me teacher," Rash said sarcastically. "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbeth?"
Pharis was practically bouncing up and down. This was it. The moment they had been waiting for. They would discredit this man, and things would get back to normal in his town.
Based on Matthew 12:9-10
The thing I want to talk about here is not the incredible point that Jesus made, the loving way He healed the man with the withered hand, or anything to do with the Sabbeth. It's about how those men looked for an opportune time to try and take Jesus down, and completely missed the man in need.
Are we ever so focused on legalities that we miss the point? The person in need? The chance to witness?
"As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgement on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand." Romans 14:1-4
This section of Scripture is about clean and unclean foods. There were many new believers coming into the church, and many of the believers who had grown up under the law of Moses were distraught about the new believers eating or living so differently.
Sometimes we need to remember that it's not about whose right and whose wrong. It's about serving God. These verses have some parallel with the situation Jesus experienced with the man with the withered hand. Do we sometimes have a heart attitude that is all legalistic and no love? The Pharisees were out for blood. They wanted to put an end to Jesus. Their soul desire was to accuse Jesus. How different it would have been if they had humbly come up to Jesus, arms looped around the shoulders of their fellow brother, with the question, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbeth?" From that standpoint, it wouldn't have been about laws or traps, but the desire to see their friend healed?
Remember to take a step back. Are we arguing over things that don't really matter in God's eyes? Or are we missing the people who need Jesus in their lives? After we figure that out, we can focus on what really matters.
V. Joy Palmer