It didn’t take long before the religious leaders sought to make every encounter with the upstart Teacher from Nazareth a showdown. Kind of goofy, really. While they struggled with some of His teaching, particularly with His teaching concerning Himself, what really got their shorts in a knot, it seems, was the power that supported His teaching–His miracles. Case in point, Mark 3 . . .
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.
(Mark 3:1-2 ESV)
Really?!? It wasn’t that they didn’t think Jesus could heal a man with a deformed hand. They knew He could do it . . . as well as cast out evil spirits, and heal people laid out with illness and fever, and command paralyzed people to walk. That Jesus COULD heal this man wasn’t a question for them. But WOULD He on the Sabbath? ‘Cause that would prove He wasn’t of God . . . doing work like that on a day of rest. Like I said, Really?!?
And Jesus kind of says the same thing too. Not verbally, but, I imagine, with His countenance.
And He said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” 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. 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.
(Mark 3:3-5 ESV)
Deeply saddened by the callousness of their souls, Jesus looked at the Pharisees in anger. Imagine that!
In the beginning was the Word . . . the Word was with God . . . the Word WAS God . . . all things were made by Him . . . in Him was life and the life was the light of men. And the Word looked upon these men with anger. The Creator incarnate fixed His gaze upon His creation with indignation. The Life and Light of men stared at these men with justifiable abhorrence. Chew on that for a bit and tell me it doesn’t send a chill down your spine.
What does it say about the power of a stubborn, calloused, unresponsive heart, that it could so move the Alpha and Omega to a state of pre-wrath?
At first, I want to judge the Pharisees. How crazy that they would stand in a synagogue on the Sabbath amidst the scrolls containing God’s holy word and dare Jesus, the holy Word incarnate, to do a miracle so that they might accuse Him of being a demon. But then I look in the mirror of my past. When, before being a given a new heart by faith, I know that, but for the grace of God, I was them.
And I humble myself and look at the mirror of my present and know times when that the disease of callousness towards the things of God has crept in as the old man does battle with my new nature. And I shudder at the thought of looking into a mirror of my future and imagining doing anything that might have my Savior cast a disapproving eye towards one who has been purchased for His own by His blood.
To grieve the King and be looked at by the Savior in anger. May it not be so. Might my heart be covered against the disease of hardness.
But also to know the grace that deals with the disease. To know the countenance of a Good Shepherd who binds up stumbling sheep.
. . . the LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.
(Numbers 6:24-25 ESV)
Because of grace . . . for His glory.