Like the man with the withered hand, each of us is hampered in some way.
Our impairment may not be as obvious as a shrunken, malformed hand, but it is there nonetheless. Our close friends are kind not to mention it. Others may not see it all but we know that part of us that ought to work doesn’t.
Jesus and the Twelve went to worship at a local synagogue. The service order was just like in all the other meeting places in all the towns and villages they had visited. A worship leader would lead the worshipers in the chanting of the psalms chosen for the day. Extensive readings of Scripture would be performed by the best readers in the group. The Rabbi would comment on the readings before dismissing the meeting. Somewhere in this service, some Pharisees thrust an unfortunate man into the center of attention. One sleeve of his outer garment was full with a powerful arm inside functioning at full use and dexterity. The other sleeve, however, was empty. At first one would think the man had only one arm but then, on closer inspection, one could see the useless, shrunken arm, no bigger than that of a child. The last thing the man wanted was to have all eyes on him. His daily allotment of courage needed to ignore all the stares and whispered comments was strained by the unthinking Pharisees. Pushing him forward, they challenged Jesus:
“Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
Jesus looked into the eyes of the man and smiled, reassuring him that He would handle the matter. He looked into the eyes of the Pharisees, burning through to their withered souls and making them squirm. Lawful? They had no interest in what is lawful except to control people and retain power over them. He used the familiar analogy of a lost sheep fallen into a ditch. What would they do? Leave it there?
“Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep?
Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
He told the man to stretch out his withered hand. The crowd took an audible breath as the hidden appendage was revealed, each one unconsciously, touched each of his arms in gratitude. As the man did his best to present his affliction to the Lord, something strange began to happen. The shortened arm began to lengthen. Bones started snapping. Beneath the surface of the skin, muscles grew right before their eyes. In a matter of seconds, the withered arm had grown to match the other one. Beaming, the man lifted both his hands to praise the Lord. The crowd joined him as Jesus and the Twelve smiled.
“Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.”
Stretch It Out!
Whatever has become withered in your life, stretch it out to the Lord Jesus! His command will restore it. His power will heal it. His love will make it useful again. This is more than lawful–this is full of grace! You may ask, “How do I do this?” We offer to the Lord who we are and what we have—nothing more does He expect. When we present ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice, He responds. He breaks the world’s hold on us. The Holy Spirit conforms us to the image of Jesus. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. There is no need to live with shrunken hopes and abilities. Like the man in the synagogue, stretch these things out to Jesus!
Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” — that they might accuse Him. Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Lord Jesus, You see my hidden weaknesses. I have no garments that can hide them from You. You long to relieve me of my pain, my inadequacies. Lord Jesus, at this moment, with this prayer, I stretch out ____________________to You! Make me whole, Lord Jesus, as You did that man in the synagogue that day. He did not come to You for healing. He had accepted his disability. But at Your command, he stretched forth his weakness and You made him strong. Touch me, today, Lord Jesus. I am reaching out to You. Amen and amen.
Reach Out and Touch the Lord
Reach out and touch the Lord as He goes by.
You’ll find He’s not too busy to answer Your cry.
He’s passing by this moment your needs to supply.
Reach out and touch the Lord as He goes by.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.