Jesus Undaunted. Matthew 12.9-14
We are all upside down in today’s culture—truly. Animal rights rank higher than human rights. We value puppies and kittens more than we do babies—human babies! Several years ago, in my hometown, a man waded out in the water, and before the watching eyes of many, drowned. Gathered on the shore were first responders (at least a dozen), and about 75 other people standing and watching—yes, watching while a 53-year-old man walked into the water and drown. Apparently, he was intent on suicide, but he struggled about an hour before he finally died. Even then, none of the firefighters or policemen went to retrieve his lifeless body—a bystander did. How do you account for public safety officers standing and watching?
You know, if this had been a dog, at least 50 of those on-lookers would have run into the bay to save it. (Yes, I said ‘bay’—these are mellow waters, not the high surf of an ocean, and the descent into the water is gradual) Maybe even, if it had been a child, folks would have gone to save him . . . then again, maybe not. Sad to say, I think animal life is more highly valued than human beings in today’s mixed-up world. Upside down we are.
Not so different than the hyper-religious Pharisees of Jesus’ day. Mosaic law was more important than just about anything else—certainly than people. Matthew writes: Leaving there he went into their synagogue, where there happened to be a man with a shriveled hand. “Is it right to heal anyone on the Sabbath day?” they asked him—hoping to bring a charge against him.
“If any of you had a sheep which fell into a ditch on the Sabbath day, would he not take hold of it and pull it out?” replied Jesus. “How much more valuable is a man than a sheep? You see, it is right to do good on the Sabbath day.”
Then Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” He did stretch it out, and it was restored as sound as the other.
But the Pharisees went out and held a meeting against Jesus and discussed how they could get rid of him altogether.1
And once again we see the heart of Jesus Christ, moved with compassion, and filled with divine power, as he heals the man with the crippled hand. The ever-watching eyes of the Pharisees, the most religious of the Jews, trying to ‘catch’ Jesus doing something against their laws, did just that. And just as Jesus defended the disciples for plucking grain and feeding themselves on the Sabbath, so too he did what the Father would have him do;2 he healed the man who was right in front of him, no matter that it was the Sabbath. Undaunted.
Jesus had already said, Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.3 The Son marched in tune with his Father and every miracle he did pointed people to the healing, transforming work of God.
Call me curious—what transforming work does God want to do in you? Transformation starts in our minds, I do believe.
What is the quality of your thinking, Friend?
Paul calls us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.4 I love that.
It has to do with not letting our thinking be dragged down by the pressures and pull of this world in which we live and function.
What Jesus truly did for the man with the crippled hand was point him to God the Father who could heal him completely and eternally. Hmmm, do you point people to God? Let’s think about Jesus’ compass again—he went where the Father had him go, and did what the Father had him do.
Is there a doubt that God would have you and I introduce people to him? Nope. Wait… you’re thinking, ‘but they might think me strange!’
Ah come on, you’ve got more courage than that, don’t you?
Do you not have freedom’s blood coursing through your veins?
Then invite someone to where they can meet Jesus,
and come in close contact with people who are passionate about him.
Yes, Jesus’ compass pointed due North;
Every thing he did was to bring glory to God and to point people to God.
The strange thing is, at least it is strange to you and me,
Jesus was completely unconcerned about people’s critical reactions to what he did; Jesus chose love, even when it meant he broke religious laws to land on the side of love—maybe especially then.
‘You? What’s your compass, and who are you pointing to God’s great love?
1 – Matthew 12.9-14, JB Phillips
2 – John 5.19
3 – Matthew 5.17
4 – Romans 12.2
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