S (Scripture): Mark 3:1 Then Jesus entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2 They watched Jesus closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they could accuse him. 3 So he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Stand up among all these people. 4 The he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath, or evil, to save a life or destroy it?” But they were silent. 5 After looking around at them in anger, grieved by the hardness of their hearts, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 So the Pharisees went out immediately and began plotting with the Herodians, as to how they could assassinate him.
O (Observation): The response of the Pharisees to Jesus “breaking the Sabbath” rule was severe. Not publicly, but privately, they were planning to kill Jesus! Why? He was (in their eyes) blaspheming…being in direct opposition to the very clear commandment: Remember the Sabath and to keep it holy!
A (Application): Jesus did a lot of things different from the tradition. Tradition keeps things nice and neat and in separate boxes. The problem is that life isn’t lived that way.
When a man who has a crippled hand is sitting in front of Jesus, Jesus heals him…even though it is the Sabbath. Jesus tears apart the box that the Pharisees had built around this situation. There are parameters and edges and a dualistic answer: right or wrong. Jesus’ action was wrong, according to the limitations of that box.
What is the right thing to do? According to tradition, this man can wait til tomorrow. That doesn’t work for Jesus in this case. So the box is torn apart, and now what do we do with this mess that Jesus has created?
We wade through it. We ask questions about it. We wonder what it is like to walk in the other person’s shoes.
What I try NOT to do is to build another box into which this experience can fit. Why not? Because then I will start to worship my own box that I created and I will become belligerent of those who try to tear down MY box.
I embrace the wonder and mystery…the paradox that scares the crap out of most all of us.
So where does that leave us? Hopefully, it leaves us sitting across the table from one another…breaking bread…discerning God’s will in that moment and context…knowing that God is moving in and through the thousands upon thousand of conversations happening in the world at this very moment.
P (Prayer): Lord, we want everything in our faith to be handed to us to make discernment easy. Does it really have to be this difficult? I guess we will rest knowing that you – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – guide our coming and our going. Amen.