Jesus went back to church. A man with a deformed hand was there. And they watched to see if Jesus would heal on the holy day because they wanted to pigeonhole him.
He called the man with the deformed hand, “Come here.” Then he said to them, “Which does the law say, that you shall do good on the holy day, or evil? Is the holy day a day for saving life or killing?”
They didn’t answer.
Shaking his head at them in disgust and grief over their hard-shriveled hearts he said to the man, “Raise your hand.” So he raised it; and there it was, all of it.
Then the legalists stormed out and began to scheme together with Herod’s people about how they would bring him down.
The issue here is not healing. (If you’re interested in that, see these comments on Jesus’ healing.) The issue is who gets to define what is holy acceptable behavior, and who is a holy, acceptable person.
If you’ve been around churches long enough, may have experienced people who didn’t get their way storming out. Picture that scene in your own experience, and you’ll have the proper setting for Mark’s story. Or maybe at a town hall meeting where someone stormed out when the people in charge didn’t capitulate. Or maybe you’re the one who stormed out.
In any case, Jesus insistence that persons regarded as second-class citizens because of their physical condition should be restored and accepted is what triggers their blow-up.
Imagine – you don’t have to imagine, really, because it happens all the time – a group of legalists objecting to the welcoming and caring for people with, for instance:
- preexisting health care conditions
- Downs syndrome
- post-traumatic stress disorder
In Jesus’ time and ours, the disability of limiting physical conditions is compounded by social stigma that isolate and exacerbate the suffering. Social stigma that are dictated by the trendsetters and codified by the law- and policymakers. Social stigma that kill as surely as any nails. And they do it in the name of being holy.
By bringing the marginalized one to the center and affirming that the condition of his “unacceptable” hand, all of it, is to be considered just as holy as the “beautiful people,” Jesus makes it clear what being holy is really about.
Go, and do likewise.