A Quick Thought on Luke 6 and the Shriveled Hand

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 all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus. – Luke 6:6-11

The thing I find so interesting about this passage is reaction of the Pharisees in the face of a miracle. A man with a “shriveled hand” is healed, made whole, set free – a supernatural miracle has taken place. The Pharisees are angry, furious, at Jesus because they feel he had violated the Sabbath by doing “work”.

Now I don’t know exactly how they qualified “work” in those days – all He did was speak. In fact, all Jesus did (as seen in the passage) is to give directions to the man, and the rest just happened. I’m not even sure you could accuse Him of working. It’s secondary though, as Jesus plainly tells them above that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath, to save life on the Sabbath. So even if He had needed to get up and walk over and shake the man’s hand, I suspect it still fits in the confines.

None of this is my point though. They had just seen a miracle. They witnessed with their own eyes a hand going from lame and shriveled to whole and functional. Isn’t there at least a moment’s pause of “wow! what just happened here?”

We all have to watch out for faux-dogmatism. I don’t mean dogmatism in the sense of taking the Word of God seriously. Rather, I mean neglecting the weightier matters such as justice, mercy, and faithfulness (see Matt 23:23) while focusing on one pericope and not even understanding it correctly in the context of the Bible as a whole; and making it worse by building additional acts and observances on top of it that have nothing to do with justice, mercy, and faithfulness. How many shriveled hands will we miss in the process?

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