For Holy Week a series of meditations written as if by some of the characters who would have been involved in the story even if not named.
Thirdly a man with a withered hand who was cured by Jesus….
Mark 3: 1 – 6
3 Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
4 Then Jesus asked (the Pharisees), “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
5 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. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
“The sins of the father shall be visited upon the children” That’s what the scripture says somewhere. And it was the bane of my life. All through my childhood all the other kids would shout at me: “What did your dad do then?”. I would be shunned. I was not allowed to play with them. It wasn’t that I couldn’t play with them; I could run as fast as any of them, I could jump the streams further than any of them, I could climb trees higher than any of them. About the only thing they were better than me at was catching a ball, although I still say I could catch with one hand what most of them struggled to catch with two. But that did not matter. I was an outcast because my hand was not like theirs.
I asked my Mum what she and Dad had done that was so wrong I should have a useless hand, but she said they had done nothing; it was just an accident. She blamed the midwife as I had screamed far more when I was born than any of my younger brothers and sisters, but at the time she just thought it must be usual for newborns to scream the way I did.
Whatever the reason, having a useless hand is not the end of the world. Dad did say one time it’s a pity that it’s not a bad enough handicap that you could make a living begging! He was joking. I think. I had no need to beg. I learned very quickly to cope with just one hand, and I have always had work, my hand might be withered but my brain is not. In fact I have a very nice little nest egg built up but sadly no one to share it with, my would be playmates weren’t the only ones to think I was untouchable, and no girl was ever interested in me.
No matter, life was quite good, I had a comfortable home and I could afford a few luxuries too. I even found I was accepted at the synagogue, even if some might say my ability to put in large offerings outweighed whatever sins had caused my hand to be withered!
So it was no surprise that on a Sabbat a year or so ago I was there in the Synagogue in my usual place, minding my own business as I prepared for the Reading of the Torah. What was a surprise was the buzz about the place, there was a rumour that that travelling Rabbi was going to be there. I had my doubts that was a good thing, because he seemed to cause trouble wherever he went. And sure enough some folk came in saying he was indeed on his way to us, and true to form had been stirring things up and annoying the Pharisees (so he wasn’t all bad – some of the Pharisees thought I should not be there because of my hand!). Story was, he and his band of followers were hungry as they walked along and had picked some ears of corn to eat. Had they been my fields I might have been annoyed at a dozen or so men feeding for free off my crops, but apparently the Pharisees had a right go at him for “working on the Sabbath” I mean, come on, give them a break its hardly using the day of rest to make a huge profit is it? When they challenged him he claimed that he was the Lord of the Sabbath, which even I think is taking things a bit far. And now here he was coming into our Synagogue. I had heard he was a grand preacher, so I was keen to hear what he had to say about the Torah reading, so got myself a place right at the front.
The Pharisees, though, were still giving him earache when he came in, but he saw me and called me out.
I don’t mind saying I would rather have been anywhere other than in front of that congregation that day. Jesus (that’s the travelling Rabbi’s name) starts asking them questions about killing or healing on the Sabbath. Not sure if they knew what he was talking about as he never got an answer. Then he tells me to put my hand out, he touches it, and Boom! it’s like it had never been anything other than perfect. Now let me tell you, I couldn’t care less what day of the week it wa,s what a difference that day made to my life. Nothing was the same; no sideways glances from folk, no grudging acceptance of my presence. I was accepted everywhere. At last I could do things like other folk. I was “normal”.
You would think everyone would be happy for me wouldn’t you? And to be fair many wer,e but not the Pharisees. Oh no, not them. As Jesus went out they started muttering among themselves about destroying him, bringing him down, doing away with him. I did try to say that what he had done would make my life so much better, but they weren’t interested. Told me to shut up and go away. Which I did. Me and my few friends went off to celebrate, and it was only then that I noticed Jesus had gone and I had not thanked him. He went off somewhere with his mates and occasionally we would hear of what he had been up to.
Anyway, this is my first chance to come to Jerusalem at Passover as a whole man, and it is great. Have had a whale of a time, up at the Temple meeting folks from all over and really looking forward to the festivities on Thursday and Friday. Just to make it complete I find that Jesus is here too; great procession on Sunday riding into town. I was there waving branches (with both hands!) tried to see if he would recognise me but I don’t think he saw me. He was in the market yesterday I thought I would be able to catch his eye and have a word but the Pharisees were there trying to trap him into saying something wrong. Boy, did he make them look foolish.
I will wait till Friday. It will be getting quieter then, so he will have a bit more time to speak to the likes of me….
The Man With the Withered Hand
Lord God our loving Father in Heaven, heal us we pray at this time. The World needs healing in so many ways but physically most. Heal us that we might better serve you that we can work for your kingdom.
In your Mercy hear our prayer,