Jesus Heals a Man with a Withered Hand


We are continuing our series of daily meditations on the topic of the supernatural power of Jesus. Here’s another example of Jesus’ miraculous power:


6On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. 7The 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. 8But 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. 9Then 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?" 10He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 11But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus (Luke 6:6-11).


The Lord Jesus did not comply with all the made-up rules of the Pharisees for keeping the Sabbath. In the synagogue that morning was a man with a withered right hand. The Greek word translated as withered was used of something shriveled up or atrophied, as in a dried-up plant or fruit. Luke 6:7 tells us that the Pharisees and teachers (scribes) were watching Him closely. I wonder if the Pharisees “encouraged” the man to come that morning in the hope of finding an occasion against Jesus for healing on the Sabbath? The Lord was displeased with all the burdensome rules that made life difficult for His people; it took away the joy of simple life. Christ took the opportunity to confront and defy His adversaries and compassionately healed the man.


The Lord did not heal him immediately; He called the man to stand in front of everyone and then questioned the Pharisees’ theology about God. He challenged them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” (v. 9). To Jesus, withholding healing just because it was the Sabbath was cruel and spoke more of evil than good. The Lord was willing to break tradition and rules for the sake of mercy and compassion.


The Pharisees cared not for the ordinary people, and they represented God as law-centered and stern. Jesus didn’t touch the man but told him to stretch out his hand, and as he did so, the Lord looked around the room, hoping for the congregation that morning to see reason and have compassion (6:10) before healing the man in full view of all. How furious were the rule–keepers! Where was the love and mercy of God in them? You’d think they would be full of wonder and joy for the man with the withered hand. Instead, the original Greek language tells us of the fury of the Pharisees: “But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus” (v. 11). Furious describes them as having a hot-headed impulsive hostility toward the Lord for healing the man and belittling them simultaneously. Doesn't it seem incredible that the Pharisees did not see their hypocrisy as they walked away thinking thoughts of murder?


As Christians, we need to be careful not to become legalistic ourselves and lose sight of what is essential. The Pharisees knew the Word of God, and yet they did not know the God of the Word. They thought more of the recipe book than the meal itself. The Bible tells us how to have a living relationship with the God of the Bible. Let’s be careful to seek the heart of the God who wrote the book. Keith Thomas.


These thoughts are from Luke 6:1-11, Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath, found in the series on Luke's Gospel, located in the All Studies box on the Home Page.