9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. (Matthew 12:9-13)
Whenever I read this passage one thing really stands out to me, and that is contrast. Jesus does this miraculous thing – he heals a man with a shriveled hand. Just by speaking. You never even met this man but you read this story and you’re so happy for him. How awesome that must have been to be healed so instantly! “But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.” What?? The Pharisees were more interested in proving Jesus wrong, trapping him, then in the man with a shriveled hand. They witness a miracle, and they feel the need to try to explain it away. Their hearts are hard. They can’t just rejoice in the miracle. They care more about a rule (which they apparently didn’t even understand correctly) than the health and welfare of another human being.
I remember the first time I read through the Bible from cover to cover. I remember thinking that Jesus really was so much more radical than many people thought. Many think of Christians as conservatives, but Jesus was anything but conservative! He was always making the Establishment mad. For some reason that makes me smile. I must still have a rebellious streak in me somewhere.
In Matthew we see the power of God in the healing of a man. In Joshua we see the power of God in the crossing of the Jordan, truly another miracle. God gave detailed instructions for bringing up stones out of the Jordan while it was dry so that the Israelites could build a monument to remember the miraculous event.
24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.” Joshua 4:24
Lord, never let me get complacent about your power. Never let me totally miss the point and the benefit of your law. Never let my love and concern for others be overshadowed by some self-righteous campaign of my own or by politics. Let what I do be done out of love, one for another.