How many times do we watch and wait for someone else to mess up? Why do we do that? Is it resentment or jealousy, assuming the other person thinks they are better than us, and we are hoping they aren’t? Do we think we really are better? What crazy people we can be!
“And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. And He said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Step forward.’ Then He said to them, ‘Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’ But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.” ~ Mark 3:1-6
The “good” religious leaders of Jesus’ day were constantly watching and waiting for Jesus to “mess up” somehow. They wanted to catch Him breaking the Jewish laws or blaspheming God, and they often tried to accuse Him of these things. So here in Mark, Jesus entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and found a man in need of healing. And the Pharisees were right there, watching and waiting, “so that they might accuse Him”. I find this amazing and oh-so-sad, for two reasons.
First of all, Jesus had been healing lots and lots of people, restoring hope and life to those who were damaged and broken, and preaching God’s word to the multitudes. Oh, to see His healing and miracles, to hear Him preach!
“At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him…And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons.” ~ Mark 1:32-34, 39
The hard-hearted Pharisees were not good “shepherds”. They did not rejoice that people were being healed and redeemed. They did not care for the people, only for their own pious selves and for their rules. This angered and grieved Jesus. Why? Because He loved them and knew their hearts were wrong.
Instead of marveling and wondering if perhaps Jesus really was the Son of God, the Pharisees watched and waited, jealous and angry that Jesus was getting this attention and sure that they were right and He was wrong. They were so blinded that they could not see that the Messiah was right there in their midst. Even the demons recognized Jesus as the Son of God!
How many times do we see those around us so blinded – sure that they are right and we are wrong, as they watch and wait for God and/or His people to “mess up” – that they don’t see the wonders and miracles Jesus is doing all around them? They miss seeing that Messiah, their Saviour, is right there in their midst, loving them, wrong-hearted though they may be.
But also, how amazing and sad, that the Pharisees were so determined to destroy Jesus that they went to collaborate with their enemies, the Herodians! They did not rejoice with this man Jesus had made whole, but instead they were incensed that Jesus would dare to heal this man on the Sabbath. One of their precious rules had seemingly been broken, and this could not be tolerated.
Are we sometimes so blinded by our own “righteous indignation” that we cannot see the hand of God working and restoring lives around us? Do we grumble and mumble to others about the injustice of it all? Or do we rejoice with those who have been made whole and recognize the Healer’s complete authority over all? Are we jealous and resentful of others in the flock, self-focused, or are we genuinely loving and caring for the sheep around us?
I pray that our hearts are never so hardened that Jesus is angered and grieved by them. May God give us “ears to hear” (Mark 4:9) – listen up! – and may He reveal His great mysteries to us.
” ‘For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear…Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given.’ ” ~ Mark 4:22-23, 24b
And let’s pray for the lost around us, that God may ” ‘…open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ ” ~ Acts 26:18