Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America

Tuesday after the First Sunday after the Epiphany of our Lord

Posted on January 12, 2021 by Pastor Dulas under Devotions
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Scripture: St. Mark 3:1-6 (NKJV)
3:1 And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2 So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. 3 And He said to the man who had the withered hand, 2 “Step forward.” 4 Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent. 5 And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.
6 Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.
Today’s reading from Mark tells us of a rather odd occurrence. What makes it odd is that on the one hand, the Pharisees recognize Jesus’ divine ability to heal. Yet, on the other hand, they regard Jesus as a Godless sinner. Why? Because Jesus did not follow their rules regarding the Sabbath. They did not understand what the Sabbath is truly about, as He told them earlier in Mark’s Gospel, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). The fulfillment of the Sabbath did not focus upon what men did or did not do. The Sabbath was, and is, about God doing for us as we listen to His Word.
So Jesus presents a simple question that should not have required any thought by the Pharisees: “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” “But they kept silent.” Their silence spoke loudly. The Pharisees really didn’t care about the man with the withered hand, which is what Jesus is showing them by asking the question. Their lack of desire to want to do good is the functional equivalent to committing evil. It is the sin of omission. Faithfully doing good for one’s neighbor has no restrictions. Had the Pharisees truly understood the Sabbath as God doing good for us, they would have jumped at the opportunity to help their neighbor.
Prayer: O Lord, we beseech Thee mercifully to receive the prayers of Thy people who call upon Thee; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfill the same; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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