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The Withered Hand Mark 3

Posted by Ez1 Realty on February 12, 2010

KJV Mark 3:1-6

1. And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. 2. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. 3. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. 4. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. 5. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. 6. And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.

What is the significance of Jesus healing a withered hand on the Sabbath day? To find this answer we need to find what a hand represents. Since the hand was withered, it may also reveal a portion of the lesson taught in this acted parable.

Without a doubt, Jesus wanted to teach an important lesson. It was almost as though He was challenging the Pharisees. Whenever Jesus was challenged by the Pharisees, He answered them on a spiritual level in the hopes they would search for answers in the scriptures. Common sense would indicate these circumstances were not any different.

This parable is recorded by three authors, another indication of the importance.

KJV Matthew 12: 9. 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. 11. 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. 13. 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.

KJV Luke 6:6. And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered. 7. And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him. 8. But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth. 9. Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it? 10. And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other. 11. And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.

Jesus asked a very important question. “Is it lawful on the Sabbath days to do good, or to do evil?” On the surface this appears to be a very simple question. But do we understand the question and do we take it seriously? When we look a little deeper we find out how simple the answer is. What good and evil is Jesus questioning? Is it the good and evil determined by the law of God, or the traditions of the Pharisees? This conversation was intended to make an impression on the minds and hearts of the Pharisees and all those attending the Sabbath services in the synagogue. In the mind of the Pharisees, they may have thought Jesus was referring to their traditions. Others may have been considering the law of God. To emphazsize the importance of the question and clear up any misunderstanding, Jesus adds one more question. “To save life, or to destroy it?”

When we study this statement on a spiritual level we easily find the answer.

KJV John 18:31. Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:

The Pharisees knew they had no power over life or death, legal or otherwise. The question Jesus asked must be in reference to God’s law. This illustrates a major fault of the Pharisees. They may have been masters at their own law, but lacked the knowledge, vision, and understanding of God’s law.

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.  KJV Mark 8:35-37, Mark 10:45, John 20:31, John 1:4, John 5:39-40, John 3:36, John 17:3

The fulfillment of the law was standing right in front of them, but they could not see. They were blinded by their own ambition. Traditions had scaled over their eyes. Controlling people meant more than saving them. Being right was more important than righteousness. The Pharisees were messed up. They needed help. Jesus once told them, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” They needed more than a physician, they needed a surgeon. But that’s not how God works.

These legalistic traditionalists would stop at nothing to put any disruption under their thumb. Anyone who questioned them on a matter quickly joined a list of undesirables. To question their authority was like speaking against God. These people loved control and would stop at nothing to maintain it. These sticklers for the law went as far as bending a few of their own traditions to meet with their arch enemies on the Sabbath to begin plotting an end to Jesus. Luke the physician wrote, “they were filled with madness.”

To understand the spiritual significance of healing a withered hand we need to find what a hand represents. The only way to accomplish this task is to locate texts explaining exactly what it means.


KJV Deuteronomy 5:32. Ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. 33. Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.

KJV Psalms 16:8. I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 9. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

KJV Psalms 48:10. According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth: thy right hand is full of righteousness.

KJV Psalms 63:8. My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.

KJV Ecclesiastes 10:2. A wise man’s heart is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart at his left.

KJV Psalms 26:9. Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men: 10. In whose hands is mischief, and their right hand is full of bribes.

KJV Matthew 25:33

33. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

A hand represents a way of life.

This acted parable has a number of key words. To gain a more complete understanding texts is provided for the word withered.


KJV John 15:6

6. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

KJV James 1: 10. But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. 11. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.

KJV 1 Peter 1: 23. Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 24. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25. But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

KJV Jude 1:12. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; 13. Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.

The word withered represents being spiritually lost.

When we look at the spiritual interpretation of the withered hand we can clearly see it represented a way of life leading to the loss of eternal life. It’s easy to see the message Jesus was sending when he restored the hand. This is the same message Jesus taught on another day.

KJV Mark 2:8. And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? 9. Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? 10. But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) 11. I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. 12. And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.

Just as the man’s hand was restored, so too could the heart of the Pharisees been restored. But their choice was made, as they plotted against Jesus. How long were they actually plotting against God, before He came to this world to give life?

You may like this updated version.


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