7624 - A Withered Hand Restored

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Jesus and the Pharisees never really got along, because the Pharisees were too focused on obeying their outward tradition, but Jesus was focused on love and people’s inward condition.

Today we study the fifth confrontation of Jesus with the Pharisees in this section. In the first confrontation (Lk. 5:17-26) the Pharisees objected to Jesus forgiving sin. The second time (Lk. 5:29-32) found them accusing Jesus of associating with sinners. In the third conflict (Lk. 5:33-39) the Pharisees objected to the fact that Jesus and his disciples did not fast. Number four (Lk. 6:1-5) was the accusation by the Pharisees that the disciples were unlawfully working on the Sabbath by picking heads of grain, cleaning them and eating.

Let’s look at Luke 6:6-11 and we will talk more.

On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, "Get up and stand in front of everyone." So he got up and stood there.

Then Jesus said to them, "I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?"

He looked around at them, and then said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He did so, and his hand was completely restored. But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.

Since Jesus could read their hearts He knew their thoughts and motivations. He knew they were prideful and oppressive. In John’s Gospel (7:19) He boldly announces that even though they taught obedience to the Law and required others to keep it strictly, that not one of them kept the law. This is why He would call them hypocrites.

Notice in the passage we read, the Pharisees and teachers of the law were actually looking for a reason to bring legal accusation against Jesus. The implication is that Jesus was interfering with their activities so they wanted to get rid of him. As time goes on this becomes a stated objective in Scripture.

In keeping with their intent of getting rid of Jesus they had representatives hounding His steps wherever He went. On this Sabbath day Jesus was in the Synagogue. We are told little about this man, but Jesus reached out to him.

However, Jesus first sought to focus these religious leaders on God’s truth rather than tradition. He asked them whether the Sabbath was meant to be a day for doing good or evil? We recognize that every day, including the Sabbath, is a day to reach out with God’s love to help and encourage those in need.

To the Pharisees it was more important to protect their traditions than to free a person from suffering. They thought work was prohibited on the Sabbath, and healing was a practice of medicine; therefore, healing was forbidden on the Sabbath. The Pharisees were not about to give an answer to the question Jesus asked. That would have been self-condemning.

But Jesus, as Lord of the Sabbath, had authority to relieve suffering and minister to needs regardless of the day. So Jesus, without even a touch, just a gentle command for the man to extend his shriveled hand, healed the man. Healing this man plainly was another demonstration of Jesus’ authority and power as the divine Son of God — the Messiah.

This was another foretelling of what the Age of Grace was to manifest.

It is obvious these religious leaders had closed minds. They were not open to truth. They did not yield to the mighty ministry of the Holy Spirit, who was working to open eyes blinded to truth by sin.

The words of Jesus, at another time, to those who believed (Jn.8:32): “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free,” did not apply to these blind leaders.

Rather the words of John 5:40: “You refuse to come to me to have life,” apply. They refused to acknowledge Jesus because they were unwilling to give up their position or power.