Wednesday, November 04, 2009

When We Lose the Power of Understanding

Mark 3

 1Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, "Stand up in front of everyone."
 4Then Jesus asked them, "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" But they remained silent.
 5He 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. 6Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

I like this scene a lot.

"Which is lawful to do on the Sabbath? To do good, or to do evil? To save life or destroy it?"
This is a much bigger question.

He's not only questioning what is lawful to do on the Sabbath, but the question he's really throwing out is "What is right?" What is the good thing? What is the evil thing? Surely nothing good would be against the Law...right? So this good act couldn't possibly be illegal!

But they (the religious leaders) remained silent.


What if they didn't?

What if those who were there witnessing this, or just 1 rabbi or priest who was there witnessing this event, spoke up and said:

You know, you're right.
Why would we want this man to continue to suffer when someone here has the power to stop it?
Why put it off?
Isn't our refusal to do what is right worse than the breaking of any law we would do to bring this about?
We're sorry.
Yes, heal him.
I don't care that I'm wrong, just do what is right.
You're right, I understand.

But that doesn't happen. Because those who were there did care if they were wrong. They deliberately chose to refuse to admit they were wrong and chose to continue in their evil. When all it would have taken was an admission that they understood they were wrong. They chose to be right instead of being true.

Why? Because of their stubborn hearts. The root word here for stubborn in the Greek has a rich meaning to it. It is based off of a word for a kind of stone. A stone that is hard, cold, callous, dull and full of pores. The word means to cover with a thick/hard/callous skin. It means to turn something dull and cold. It also has a less descriptive definition: to lose the power of understanding. It is as if this callous shell and refusal to admit they are wrong, has made them unable to understand. Unable to empathize with the man who needs to be healed. Unable to see that this act is good as opposed to illegal.

Jesus sees their stubborn hearts and we see that he was both 1) angry and 2) deeply distressed. These are both very powerful emotions, the word translated to 'deeply distressed' is a very intense level of grief or sorrow. It is an active sorrow, described as being thrown into sorrow. And the word used for anger is the same Greek word that is translated elsewhere into wrath. It is a fierce anger. One that often comes with action. An anger that is displayed through a violent action.

In this case...the violent action was healing someone.

He commanded the man to stretch out his hand. And he did, and it was completely restored.

I believe that if those who were there witnessing the event were able to stretch out their hearts, remove the callous skin, and try to understand what was happening, that they would have been restored as well.

Jesus would have healed them.

I believe Jesus' sorrow is from his knowledge that he'd only be able to heal 1 person from this event instead of many.

That the potential was there, if only some would get beyond their pride and admit they don't understand everything they think they do!

If only they could just admit they have gotten it wrong.

They would have been healed too...