Rob here. One of my favourite Jesus stories is found in Mark 3:1-6. Jesus is in the synagogue along with a man who has a shrivelled hand. He probably has no way to make a living apart from begging. He has no dignity, no place in society and is in desperate need of compassion and grace.
Jesus’ desire is to heal the man but there are many in that synagogue whose only interest was to accuse Jesus, trap him into doing something unlawful – like, God forbid, heal someone on the Sabbath!
Jesus knows their hearts. He decides to do this publicly. Jesus normally told the people he healed to keep it quiet but there is a point to be made here. “Then Jesus asked them, ‘which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’ But they remained silent.”
Of course they remained silent! How do you respond to that without covering yourself in shame? The only way is to confess your evil thoughts and repent, but the religious types are normally too proud for that! I love the next bit: “He looked around at them in anger and deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.”
The Pharisees began plotting with their arch-enemies (the Herodians), not because they were so attached to their law of not healing on the Sabbath, but because they were publicly shamed by a carpenter’s son! He exposed their callousness, their hardened hearts that valued law-keeping more than the restoration of the broken. The part I love is that their stubborn hearts caused Jesus to be angry and deeply distressed. This tells us where his priorities lay. He is into healing, restoration and mercy! He says no to law-keeping at the expense of people. He says no to people who keep others oppressed for the sake of their privileged positions. But he says yes to the broken, the vulnerable, the ‘damaged goods’ and brings freedom and hope into our lives; and he will do this at the cost of his own life.
Does Jesus care? Yes he does. He really, really does.
Check out this video to find out about John Eldredge’s new book ‘Beautiful Outlaw’ and the glorious personality of Jesus.