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Mark’s first-century biography – page 9

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” 

This is the second time that Jesus is in the synagogue in Capernaum, in Galilee around AD 30. That first time, a man was there with an unclean spirit. 

The two go together of course. If I’m not clean inside, my ability to do stuff is withered – shrunken. The basic Greek word Mark used was xeros meaning “dry”. Xerox printers which produce copies by a “dry” process, adopted the Greek word. What would you like to see happen to this person? 

Jesus, like all of us, wanted to restore the man. But, for some, the Sabbath was not the day for it. They were strongly religious.

And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 

Jesus asks the religious whether good may lawfully to be done on the Sabbath and whether (tellingly) harm may lawfully be done on the Sabbath. What about saving life on the Sabbath? Is it lawful to kill on the Sabbath?

What do you think? Should religion tell me not to do a good thing on a particular Day? Should religion tell me that, on a particular Day it’s OK to kill another person? The latter is definitely occurring today in our world.
And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 

The very first Sabbath, in the Bible’s record, took place after creation was completed. Human beings were the last to be created. After creating them, the LORD God saw that it was all “very good”. He – and all creation – rested in that glorious wonderful perfection and completeness. No uncleanness. No withered hand. 

By doing this dry-hand restoration (and dealing with the unclean spirit within a man on the first occasion in the synagogue), was Jesus indicating a restoration, internally and externally, of the original, perfect Sabbath of rest? 

‘And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Thus, the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.’ (From the opening pages of the Bible, the book called “Genesis” ("beginning”))
The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. 

Clearly, it was religiously “lawful” for the religious to plan, on their Sabbath, to kill another human being. 

Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. 

This is, indeed, a great crowd. It’s made up of crowds from six or seven different areas. They have all come for the same reason: they have “heard all that he was doing”. “Doing”? Yes. Healing. Curing all diseases.

Their collective anxieties for their own good would have crushed him to death. They wanted healing, they didn’t want to suffer or die from their diseases. They wanted to live on – pain-free. Is that what you are seeking?

And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” And he strictly ordered them not to make him known. 

Two things here. First, Jesus firmly stopped the unclean spirits from identifying him. Those with those spirits “fall down before him and cry out”. He is totally in authority over unclean intangible things within us all. He doesn’t want endorsement by them. From whom does he long for endorsement?

Sinner Syvret

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