I’m currently going through You Belong To The Bridegroom (seriously cannot recommend this study highly enough! Get it!!). This week finds me in Mark 3:1-6, a passage familiar which packed a new-found punch. In college, I traveled to India for two weeks and while there, one of my travel companions, Cara Powers George, shared an impactful message on this passage. Today’s time in these six verses brought her words to memory as the Lord spoke fresh revelations to my heart.
The passage tells of a man with a withered hand who has a life-changing encounter with Jesus. We know not why the man’s hand was withered. Was it a birth defect? A horrible accident? The result of intentional harm? No matter the source of his impairment, this man carried a physical reminder of weakness, inability and shame. Every. Day. But rather than hiding in life’s shadows, we find him in the synagogue, the place of worship and teaching of Scriptures. He had come to the place of religion but that day, he met the Source of Salvation.
Jesus called the man to Himself. “Get up and come forward!” One of disability, I wonder if the man blushed at the attention, slowly rising from the back of the room and walked timidly to the center of the synagogue. Did he hide his hand beneath his cloak? How often we too hide in our shame, embarrassed of the marks we carry of life’s afflictions and poor decisions. Even in churches, we come knowing we ought be there or hoping answers will be found, yet put on a happy face, hiding the disfigurements we all carry behind smiles and cliches.
As he reached the Savior, this man heard the words, “Stretch out your hand.” Expose your withered hand, your inability, your source of pain. The very hand that had defined and limited the man was precisely what Jesus desired. Bring it out from hiding into the light. What struck me most in this passage was not just the Lord’s desire for the disfigured, but how He chose to heal him. Verse 5 tells us that the man stretch out his hand (comma) and it was restored. Notice the order! The hand was restored after he exposed it to Jesus. The man’s willingness to stretch out his hand, to trust Jesus with his greatest shame, brought forth His healing. The Lord honored the man’s trust and obedience in restoring his hand. How often He calls me to bring my withered parts to Him with healing in mind, yet I remain impaired by my own pride to keep it hidden.
I love how Jesus called the broken to Himself. He was surrounded by Pharisees in this moment. Men of discipline, knowledge and religious perfection. Yet it was the man of withered hand, standing in the back shadows, that drew the Lord’s attention and affection. Jesus did not ask the cause of this man’s brokenness. In fact, He already knew it all. But the cause was not of concern to the Lord. Only that he would come forward and trust the messy result into His keeping.
We all have withered places: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. We all carry scarred results of past decisions and harmful afflictions. But try as we might, we cannot mend ourselves. Jesus calls us all to get up out of our shame and hiding, to come forward into His presence and to stretch out our disfigurements to Him. Jesus loves us. He longs for us. And it is in our vulnerable trusting that His healing takes place.