Focus with me on four elements of this timeless account . . .
The Withered Hand
The historian Jerome tells us there is strong traditional evidence
that the man with the paralyzed hand was a stone mason. If so, his
paralysis would have very definitely affected his income, and,
consequently, the well-being of his entire family. In addition,
medicine being in the state that it was, there would have been no
painkillers to help alleviate the pain he undoubtedly felt in his arm
and through his chest.
Although our medicine and workmen's
compensation are more sophisticated than in Jesus’ day, our society is
filled with people who feel as though they’re paralyzed relationally,
wounded financially, or withered emotionally. Thus, this account is as
impacting today as it was then.
The Wicked Plan
Hearing stories about the Man from Galilee Who worked wonders and
miracles, the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem grew concerned, for it seemed as
though He was getting far too much attention. So they sent a
delegation composed of scribes and Pharisees — those devoted to
interpreting the Law, and those devoted to keeping its most minute
detail — to Capernaum in order to check out the situation.
they know where to find Jesus? Could it be that, knowing this man with
the paralyzed arm would be in that particular synagogue on the
Sabbath, they figured Jesus would be there as well?
The scribes and
Pharisees did not come to worship. They came to watch. They did not
come to commune with the Lord, but to confront the Lord. They did not
come to find fruit, but to find fault. And they sat there, waiting —
knowing Jesus, moved with compassion, would surely do something which
would violate their Sabbath rules.
The Wonderful Man
Jesus always shows up where people are hurting and needy. Such is
the heart of our Lord. He desires to heal the hurts, to bind the
wounds, to restore strength, to straighten out situations. The Lord is
always present in the place of hurting, and He’ll always move towards
the one who is hurting the most.
If you’re hurting today, the Lord
will find His way to where you’re sitting and come alongside of you
especially, singularly, particularly.
Jesus likened Himself to the
shepherd who leaves 99 of his flock in order to find the one that’s
lost (Luke 15). That’s our Lord. Jesus told us that wherever 2 or 3
are gathered in His Name, He’s in their midst (Matthew 18:20). Thus,
He is here.
And yet why is it in the Christian community that,
although we believe this theoretically, we refer people away from the
Church consistently? If a person battles alcohol, we refer him to AA.
If a marriage is in danger, we refer the couple to a seminar. If
parents are having troubles with their teenagers, we refer them to
While I am not against any of these things, I suggest that they have become substitutes
because people no longer believe they can come into church with their
withered hand and that Jesus will meet them there and touch them
miraculously. Instead, they believe they must go through hours and
hours of dialogue and deep inner searching before they can find an
I suggest to you that just as Jesus was in the synagogue
dealing with the man with the withered hand, He is in this place,
dealing with any of us who acknowledge our weakness, our paralysis.
The Powerful Command
‘Stand forth,’ Jesus said to the man with the paralyzed hand,
perhaps hoping to stir up some sense of compassion with the hard
hearts of the Pharisees as they viewed a man whose right arm dangled
helplessly at his side. And then He said something so essential when
He said, ‘Stretch forth thine hand.’
‘Wait a minute,’ the man could
have said, ‘That’s easy for You to say. My hand is paralyzed. How can
I stretch it forth?’ The man could have argued with Jesus. After all,
he didn’t know Who Jesus was.
Instead, however, he simply obeyed. He
didn’t argue. He didn’t debate. He simply said, ‘OK,’ — and as he
stretched out his hand, the Lord met him in that place because in the
Lord’s declaration there is dynamic.
When God speaks, power is
released. In God’s commandments are God’s enablements. If you can grab
that simple concept, the Word will become extremely exciting to you.
To you who are saying, ‘I’m so depressed. I’ve had demons cast out.
I’ve gone for inner healing. I’ve had counseling. I’ve read every
self-help book, and followed every technique — all to no avail,’ this
wonderful Man comes and says, ‘Rejoice evermore. This is the will of
God,’ (I Thessalonians 5:16).
You can either argue with Him, or you can say, ‘If the Word tells
me to rejoice evermore, I will now start rejoicing.’ And in the very
act of beginning to rejoice, you’ll find reason to continue to
The Word says, ‘Husbands, love your wives,’ (Ephesians 5:25).
‘Oh, but you don’t know my wife. You don’t know what we’ve been
through,’ you might say. You can argue and debate and go to seminars
and read books until you’re blue in the face — or you can say, ‘The
apostle Paul, inspired by the Spirit of God, simply tells me to love
my wife. So I will love my wife.’ And because you’re doing it, God
will give you the power to carry it out. ‘Wives, submit to your
husbands,’ (Ephesians 5:22).
You can argue and say 'Why, this is
impossible!' Or you can say, ‘Lord, in Your commandment is Your
enablement. I will do it today.’ And you will receive power.
struggling with drugs, alcohol, pornography, the Lord would say to you
today, ‘Reckon yourself dead unto sin, but to alive to Jesus Christ,’
(Romans 6:11). Therefore, if you go home, throw it away and say, ‘I’m
going to obey the command of Christ,’ you’ll find power and victory.
Maybe you have a problem exaggerating or lying. ‘Wherefore putting
away lying, speak every man truth to his neighbor,’ the Word says
(Ephesians 4:25). Simply do it today.
Dear, precious people — every
one of us is withered in some area of our lives. We know that. But the
solution does not lie in seminars or books.
The solution is simply to
obey the command of Christ. And as you do, He’ll meet you at that
point and give you the power to carry it out.
Once I quit saying why I
can’t; once I quit arguing with the Word and saying, ‘It’s not that
easy’; once I quit saying, ‘I’m an exception to the rule,’ and instead
say, ‘Lord, if You say it, I’ll do it. Period.’ — He meets me there
and a miracle takes place.
The choice is yours. Stand forth. Stretch
out your hand. And be made whole.