In today's study from Matthew 12:9-15, we see our Lord healing the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath Day and the sad response of the religious leaders who were even more determined to destroy him.
The Withered Hand
vv.9-10 And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue: (10) And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.
To further prove His point, he went into the synagogue and healed a man with a withered hand. It’s almost like he was purposely pushing them to make his point. Of course, the Pharisees were there as well. Notice their question, “If it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day?” Notice their motive, “that they might accuse Him.” They were still not getting it. They did not hear a word he had just said previously about the rest that he came to offer them because they had already rejected him for the most part.
vv.11-12 And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? (12) How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.
Like our Lord was accustomed to do, he answers their question with one of His own. He is trying to move them from physical to spiritual. He is trying to move them from the “letter of the Law” to the “spirit of the Law.” Mark 3:1-6 gives us more details as to exactly what happened and what was said. Jesus was grieved at the hardness of their hearts.
The Pharisees Were Hypocrites
In actuality, the only ones breaking the Law was the Pharisees. The Lord caught them red handed right before His crucifixion when He went into the temple and they were buying and selling on the Sabbath. We see this in Matthew 21:12-15 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 And He said to them, "It is written, 'MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER,' but you have made it a 'DEN OF THIEVES.'" 14 Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant Israel was told not to do this in Lev 23:3 “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places. We even see that they were guilty of the same with Nehemiah in Neh 10:28-31 Now the rest of the people—the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the Nethinim, and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, everyone who had knowledge and understanding— 29 these joined with their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God's Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes: 30 We would not give our daughters as wives to the peoples of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons; 31 if the peoples of the land brought wares or any grain to sell on the Sabbath day, we would not buy it from them on the Sabbath, or on a holy day; and we would forego the seventh year's produce and the exacting of every debt.
Good vs. Evil
vv.13-14 Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other. (14) Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.
I think of two things when I read these verses. First, I think of the goodness of God. Even though the Lord knew the trouble that He was going to cause; He still healed the man. Second, I think of the evilness of man. It seems like man is never happy. We tend to thrive on finding fault in another individual. Why? I believe it’s because finding a fault in another makes us feel better about ourselves
That is a sad reality. In psychology, it is called meta-hypocrisy which is hypocrisy about one's own hypocrisy. Nothing makes us feel better than to put others down to lift ourselves up. This ought not to be brethren.
The Emotion of Rejection
v.15 But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all;
After twenty-five years of ministry, I can honestly say that I know exactly what Jesus was experiencing: rejection. Our Lord said in Joh 15:22-25 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ Just think about it, our Lord had lived and walked among these people his entire “human” life and they were still rejecting him. The human side of the Lord felt and was hurt by the finality of rejection. Some of the sadist passages in the Bible is Joh 1:1-11 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.