Sunday Sermon Summary: withered
Today's sermon summary is taken from Mark 3: 1-6. It's the story of the man who entered the synagogue with the withered hand, and they watched to see if Jesus was going to heal him or not so that they might accuse him. (This is free for you to use if you wish.) I want to just highlight a few of its aspects that I think are very important.
- The first is that the authorities are more concerned about what is right and wrong than what can heal or harm. They sincerely believe that their scrupulous attention to order matters and is in the best interest of the people. Certainly they genuinely presume their codes improve quality of life. But they are living in another categorical set that Jesus soon asserts actually kills. It isn't about what is right or wrong, but what gives life or kills it. This attitude is the prevalent weakness in all institutions when propriety, rules and convention come before the wellbeing of the person. The principalities, powers, authorities and thrones incline to invest more into protocol than the person.
- Next, Jesus teaches that assigning priority to propriety over the person is not just another categorical set operating independently from life as an objective critique of the same, but is actually an instrument of death. There is no neutral higher ground that the authorities may occupy in order to evaluate the spiritual health of their people. You are either helping or harming. You are either healing or hurting. You are either giving life or killing. What angered Jesus wasn't the existence of the Sabbath laws, but how the observance of these laws actually authorized some to clinically watch others suffer and to unconsciously use them as bait to expose lawbreakers. It excused them from action. It even excused them from honest speech! Jesus says that this inaction and silence is paramount to murder.
- The popular phrase "hardness of heart" (v. 5) is packed with meaning here because just before this Mark writes that Jesus became angry and was filled with grief. Anger and grief are two powerful emotions that Jesus apparently wasn't afraid to exhibit. Unlike his adversaries who coldly watch from an indifferent distance, who are inactive, who are silent, and who don't feel anything but murderous intellectual provocation when a rule is broken, Jesus was openly angry and heartbroken all in one sentence. Jesus lived in close proximity with the suffering, the sick and the sinful. He touched them. He got angry for them. He felt grief for them. He didn't just advocate for them. He helped them.