Friday, July 21, 2017

The Withered Hand

UV 2726/10000 The Withered Hand
How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days
Matthew 12 v 12

This uni-verse is Jesus’s response to the insinuation of the Pharisees that He would be breaking the law by healing and restoring the withered right hand of a man on the Sabbath. Jesus compares His act of healing the man to what anyone would do to save a sheep that had fallen into a pit even on a Sabbath. It demonstrates the flexibility of Jesus on non essentials of faith. The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath implying the laws are made to facilitate man to be his better self walking in relationship with the Lord and that man was not to be rigid and unthinking or unfeeling in its application.

Jesus constantly compared the value of a man’s life with that of birds, animals and in this case, sheep. We are of far greater value in the kingdom of God than all of His other creatures. Even God’s law or His word will not stand in the way of our doing good to others. Jesus is asking us to honour the spirit of the law rather than its letter. The Word is meant to liberate us from restrictions, fears, inhibitions, limitations, artificial boundaries and man-made traditions and rites. The Word is meant to give us the abundant and eternal life and not to accuse us, to make us feel guilty, to humiliate us, to discredit us.
There is therefore, no law against spiritual, moral and personal excellence. The law is meant to define the bare minimum, the desideratum for civilized life but we are called to operate far above that level. The law tells us to avoid evil but the spirit asks us to abound with goodness. Jesus distinguished between the two and showed us that there is a vast difference between these. Man is not just a creature at the top of the food chain but a fallen angel, a heavenly being waiting to develop the wings of prayer and the word to fly back home. The restoration of the withered hand of the man by Jesus is a symbol of His grace, love and ability to restore that which is withered in our lives, to restore it to its pristine state. The hand that was restored was the right hand, signifying the restoration of that which is important and significant or that without which we cannot get on. The restored right hand of the man would enable him to work, to earn, to live with dignity. It would create the veritable and virtual ambience of a continual feast in his heart all his remaining living days as well as joy and wonder in the hearts and minds of all who knew him, his intimate circle as well as acquaintances. That act would bring much joy, praise and worship in the heart of the restored, the healed- more praise and worship than the entire ecclesiastical order of the world would ever bring to the altar of the Lord. That act of healing would bring glory to the Lord and peace and goodwill among men. Doing something of value to any one- anytime, anywhere by anybody is not going to violate any law of man or of God. Laws and rules are not to be made that would degrade human beings in comparison with other creatures. To dethrone man from the throne of the earth is to defy the One who sits on the throne of heaven.

Prateep V Philip

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