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Matthew 12:9-14: Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbaths

Posted by adventbiblestudy on December 3, 2011

Matthew 12:9-14 MKJV And when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. (10) And behold, a man having a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbaths? This so that they might accuse Him. (11) And He said to them, What man among you will be, who will have one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbaths, will he not lay hold on it and lift it out? (12) How much better is a man then than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath days. (13) Then He said to the man, Stretch out your hand. And he stretched it out, and it was restored whole like the other. (14) Then the Pharisees went out and held council against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.


Once again Jesus found Himself preaching in another synagogue. To his disciples they are all were beginning to look alike, the priest and Pharisees seated in the front, each trying to out do the others with their elaborate dress, long colorful hems, and ornate head wear, and the common folk crowed in the rear. The disciples often wondered why they allowed Jesus to teach in the synagogues. Those in charge never seemed to agree with, or accepted what He preached. The priests could have easily banished Him from speaking in any synagogue and saved themselves what they considered a lot of headaches. In its own way, this seemed like one of the greatest miracles they witnessed, up until this day.

Every time Jesus spoke the synagogues were filled past capacity. Children occupied the windows just to catch a glimpse of Jesus. Hundreds gathered outside the open doors listening carefully to every word they could catch.

The disciples always occupied the back row, looking over the people, wondering what Jesus saw in each face. When Jesus looked over this group, He studied a number of faces. Sometimes He could see the years of pain locked away in their eyes. Today was not different, many people carried a look of anguish. A woman hiding the sin of adultery from her husband, another with years of gossip building up guilt, waiting for the truth to spring forth, business men and tax collectors who had taken advantage of people all week, hoping a burnt offering and a day in the synagogue would buy them forgiveness, and relief from the pain inside.

Today Jesus noticed a man in front of His disciples with his head bowed low. His long stringy hair covered his eyes. He was dressed in little more than bits and pieces of rags, grayed by years of sleeping in the streets. His odor was distinct even in this large group. This was the one. Jesus could feel his pain. It was different from the others. His pain came from years of loneliness and neglect. This man felt comfort being pressed by the crowd. This was the first human contact he had felt in years. He had spent his entire life alone in a world full of people.

Jesus moved forward, an unusual scene in the synagogue. The priest and Pharisees watched Him closely, wondering what Jesus was up to. People in the aisle moved aside ahead of him creating an opening between Jesus and the old man. Jesus stopped in the middle and called out to the man, “come.” For the first time the old man looked up, surprised to see Jesus standing in front of him with nothing but an open path. One of the priests recognized the old man. Summing up the situation he asked, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbaths?” Jesus turned back to the contingency of priests filling the aisle behind Him and answered, “What man among you will be, who will have one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbaths, will he not lay hold on it and lift it out? How much better is a man then than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath days.” The room filled with a series of gasps, mumbles, and comments. Jesus held up His hand to silence the room and said to the old man, “Stretch out your hand.” The old man pulled the rags back from his hand. People nearby pushed and shoved in an attempt to observe the event unfolding before them. Those nearby let out a gasp as the man displayed a badly withered hand, dwarfed by comparison to his good hand.

The old man stared at his hand for a minute. The expression on his face turned from pity to a look of determination. He looked up at Jesus. While staring into the loving eyes of Jesus, the old man’s hand began to pump in new blood. At first there was an evident change in color, followed by a physical change in the shape and consistency. The old man looked back down at his hand, restored like his other. He raised it up to his eyes, flexed it open and closed a few times, and lifted it in the air for everyone to see. Shuts of praise filled the synagogue, many broke out in a song of praise.

The priest and Pharisees immediately departed to the private room off the front of the sanctuary. Once the door was shut behind them, they began plotting their revenge.


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