“They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” (Ephesians 4:18)

They scrutinized Jesus like a hawk peering at its prey, intent on swooping in swiftly and gobbling him alive. It was the Sabbath, and a man with a deformed hand stood timidly in the synagogue; the religious elite dared Jesus to make a move.

Their veins pulsed with loathing for the Healer, and their silence smacked of accusations and resentment. Jesus beckoned to the man with the withered hand and offered the sulking ones a proposal: “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” (Mark 3:4)

The Master Questioner stilled their lethal tongues, but their arrogant indifference and wickedness stirred him to anger. In fact, the Gospel writer records that Jesus took the time to look directly at them, to peer into their hardened hearts. The reflection “grieved” him deeply.

The skeptics could not intimidate the Savior, and their lack of compassion didn’t prevent him from accomplishing his will. Christ did not move a muscle to bring about the healing. He restored the man simply by speaking four words, ‐ “Stretch out your hand,” failing to break any Sabbath regulations.

Immediately after the healing they swarmed outside, menacing birds of prey hovering to destroy the Miracle-­maker, the gentle Healer, the Savior of the world.

His enemies would succeed temporarily. Jesus would hang on a cross, and they would foolishly suppose their mission accomplished as his blood dripped to the ground. They stood inches away from Jesus, and yet never heard him calling them to “Come.” Preoccupied with plotting his demise, they failed miserably at preventing his greatest act of “doing good” as he saved mankind from sin’s withering hold.

Consumed with doing him harm, they totally missed the Savior who came to rescue us from crippled hearts and stony souls.

Gentle healer, you who see within, do me good this day as I stretch out my withered places to you. With your Words of life and touch of love, restore and renew all the worn-­out parts in me you know to be in need.

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