“He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!”” MARK 3:3 NASB
This man with the withered hand is you and me. This man knew he had something that needed to be healed. Other people knew it as well. But, this deformity, this thing that needed to be healed, was keeping the man from being fully engaged in the community. Even though this moment was going to be awkward and uncomfortable, Jesus calls the man forward to Him so that healing could take place. This man wasn’t called by Jesus in spite of his deformity, he was called because of it. The healing and restoration would give God the glory.
My guess is that the man with the withered hand didn’t come to the synagogue that morning thinking he would be healed. He surely didn’t expect to participate in the sermon. After all, he wasn’t fully equipped to do much of anything since he really only had use of one hand. His deformity was something he couldn’t hide. It was out in the open for everyone to see which surely gave him shame and a low disposition. The story doesn’t tell us how the hand was withered. We don’t know if it was the result of an accident or disease or how long he had been dealing with it. He could have had been dealing with this from childhood for all we know.
What we know is that Pharisees knew about this man and had no compassion for him. They wouldn’t lift their two good hands to help the man with one good hand and misused the law to justify their apathy. The passage goes on to tell us that Jesus was “grieved at the hardness of their heart”. This man probably only saw the Pharisees when he went to the temple. The place he should have been able to find acceptance and empathy was actually a source of pain and shame thanks to the people who were enamored with the power of their position in the synagogue. What should have been a symbol of hope was a vessel of oppression for this man because of the people in charge. Sound familiar?
Jesus calls the man to Him, fully knowing about the withered hand. He knew the shame the man had faced. Jesus knew how uncomfortable this moment would be for our overlooked and cast down friend. Jesus also knew what He was about to do with someone “unqualified to serve” was going to cause outrage with His enemies. Yet, Jesus called the man to Him and said, “Stretch out your hand”. What follows is absolutely beautiful. Vs 5″…So he stretched it out, and his hand was restored”.
Each of us has had or has now our own “withered hand” that we know needs to be healed. Our “withered hand” that keeps us from being fully engaged. Maybe it is a questionable past filled with one bad decision after another. Maybe it is a lack of education that makes us feel unqualified. Perhaps we feel like we don’t look the part. Whatever it is that the enemy is using to make us feel inadequate and unqualified is our “withered hand”. Whatever it may be, Jesus is calling us to Him to have it healed and restored. Sure, it may require an uncomfortable meeting with Jesus but, it will be more than worth the temporary discomfort to gain the lasting restoration.
I have been used by God many times in my life in spite of my shortcomings. The enemy still tries to make me feel unqualified and unable to be used. The enemy tells me to be silent and stay down. But, I hear God say, “Get up and come forward.” I hear the accuser remind me of all the reasons I should not be used by God. That liar highlights all of my “withered hands” to shame me. But I hear God say, “Stretch out your hand”. Every time I have been obedient to come forward in spite of my withered hand, God has restored it and used me for His glory. So I urge you not to listen to the enemy. When the enemy tells you to be silent and stay down, “Get up and come forward”. When the enemy tries to shame you with all of your withered hands, “Stretch out your hand” before God and watch how He uses you to shame the enemy and bring glory to God. I promise you that you will not regret it.