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Mark 026 - Stand Up

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

Mark 3:1-3[1]

I don’t know about you, but if there were some people looking for a reason to accuse me of something, I think I’d go somewhere else. If they weren’t just casually looking at me, but really watching carefully and closely, I’d head for the hills. And I’d certainly change up my routine. Going to the synagogue on Saturday, where I always go on Saturday, would be a dead giveaway.

Maybe they were following Jesus. Maybe they blasted a text message to all their friends and family to be on the lookout for Jesus. And once they found him, they were like watchdogs, looking for anything, everything that they could use against him.

And what was their focus at this particular synagogue, on this particular Saturday? A guy. But not just any guy, a guy with a shriveled hand. When Luke tells the story[2], he mentions that it’s his right hand. There wasn’t anything remarkable about this guy. He wasn’t famous, he wasn’t rich, he wasn’t special. But what made him worth watching was his handicap, his withered hand.

He wasn’t born this way, something happened. Maybe it was from an accident. Maybe it was from a disease. Maybe it happened a long time ago. Maybe it was recent. No matter the details, people stared. They stared because he was different. They stared because they wondered what he did to deserve this punishment from God.

They were looking to jump all over Jesus. And for what? Did he speak against Rome? The Jewish leaders? Say anything questionable about God? The spiritual and political leaders did more than just take a passing glance at Jesus, they continually kept on watching him, looking for any possible faults.

The thing that was foremost in their minds was seeing how Jesus lived, acted, and spoke during the Sabbath. These watchdogs were looking for a way to discredit Jesus personally.

They were watching Jesus like a hawk, to see if he healed. Imagine that; healing is a good thing. Heck, it’s a great thing. But they were watching to see what Jesus did and said on a Saturday, on the Sabbath.

And there’s no mystery about what they were expecting. They hoped, expected that he would heal this poor, wretched guy. They could care less about the man and his arm; they were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus.

And Jesus’ reaction is classic! Rather than hiding in the desert, or moving away from everyone, he’s in a public place at a time when people would be gathered. He publicly asked the man with the shriveled hand to stand up. Not in the corner, but up front so they have a 360° view of him and his withered hand, Just as he was.

And he does it. This poor man comes forward and stands in front of this hostile crowd. Shriveled hand and all.

We don’t know what the guy with the shriveled hand was thinking. While we’re not told what was going through the head and heart, his mind had to be racing. Was he so desperate that he’s willing to do anything? Was he so impressed with Jesus that he’d do whatever he said? Was he so scared that he didn’t think? He’d just did it?

No matter the reason, no matter his emotions, no matter his thinking, he did it. He came forward. He walked through the people in the Synagogue and came to the front. After all, what did he have to lose? What could they say that he hasn’t already heard? His arm couldn’t get any worse, so why not.

Which brings up the question; are we willing to stand up in front of people when Jesus asks? Are we ready to respond to his call, walking through a crowd that’s not full of friendly faces? Are we ready to expose our greatest weakness in public?

Are we ready and willing to do all this? When there are no guarantees? Jesus didn’t say “Come up here and I’ll heal your shriveled arm.” There was no up-front conversation or agreement, “Jesus, if I come up front, you’re going to heal me. Right?”

It was: hear Jesus, get up, walk. Period. We want all the details nailed down ahead of time. We want to know what to expect. But that’s not the way it works with Jesus. He’s God, and we’re not. So, he calls the shots. He leads. He gives the orders. Our role, our job is to obey.

Are you ready to stand up and say, “Yes sir” to Jesus?

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all Bible references are from the New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. [2] Luke 6:6-11

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