S (Scripture): Mark 3:1 Jesus returned to the synagogue. A man with a withered hand was there. 2 Wanting to bring charges against Jesus, they were watching Jesus closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. 3 He said to the man with the withered hand, “Step up where people can see you.” 4 Then he said to them, “Is it legal on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they said nothing. 5 Looking around at them with anger, deeply grieved at their unyielding hearts, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he did, and his hand was made healthy. 6 At that, the Pharisees got together with the supporters of Herod to plan how to destroy Jesus.
O (Observation): By this time Jesus’ notoriety was building. He was healing people – and according to the church officials – without God’s or the church’s authority.
Jesus – extremely frustrated – asks the man with the withered hand to come up, front and center. Then Jesus puts the church leaders on the spot: “on this precious Sabbath…shall we do good or evil? Bring life or death?”
In other words, should we let this man suffer, still? When we know he could be healed?
Jesus doesn’t disrespect the Sabbath. He just wonders if the rules the church leaders have created for the Sabbath now promote their own agenda, rather allow the Sabbath to be a day for new life and renewal.
A (Application): How strange a time in which to be living. This is Easter Monday. Yesterday, we celebrated the Resurrection of our Lord (albeit online).
The 5 of us in my family (me, wife, our 3 children) had baskets of candy, watched a few worship opportunities online. Had a nice meal. Zoomed with 3 of our family groups.
It was the oddest Easter for us. It was the first time in over 12 years I did not rise early for a sunrise Easter service. I did not notice the small of eggs and sausages and bacon being cooked at church, like in my last call, where they made a huge Easter breakfast.
And as I sit this morning, I wonder about the point of worship and the gathering of God’s people.
Is this really a moment for me to feel the joy of the risen Lord? Don’t get me wrong, I am hopeful. I am not a pessimist. And I know this will all pass.
I guess I just mourn the loss of community this day.
I think of this quarantine time as a Sabbath, perhaps. A time for renewal and rest from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. And perhaps this time can better prepare me and my family to see that God can bring new life, even (and especially) while we are in this Sabbath time.
How is God stirring you this day? I sense my own frustration, but perhaps God can work all of this towards the good, eventually. Maybe God is doing the work in me/us already, but maybe I/we can’t see it yet.
I am not saying God brought this on us…just like I don’t think God made the man’s hand withered. I guess I’m saying that in the Sabbath, God can still work things for the good.
P (Prayer): Lord God, create in me a heart that is open to your will being done, in spite of this virus that keeps us apart from loved ones and strangers alike. Amen.