07.02.03 Lk. 6:6-7; Mt. 12:10b-12; Mk. 3:3-6
THE MAN WITH THE PARALYZED HAND, HEALED ON THE SABBATH
Lk 6 On another Sabbath He entered the synagogue and was teaching. A man was there whose right hand was paralyzed. 7 The scribes and Pharisees were watching Him closely, to see if He would heal on the Sabbath, so that they could find a charge against Him.
Mt 10b And in order to accuse Him they asked Him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” 11 But He said to them, “What man among you, if he had a sheep that fell into a pit on the Sabbath, wouldn’t take hold of it and lift it out? 12 A man is worth far more than a sheep, so it is lawful to do what is good on the Sabbath.”
Mk 3 He told the man with the paralyzed hand, “Stand before us.” 4 Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do what is good or to do what is evil, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 After looking around at them with anger and sorrow at the hardness of their hearts, He told the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 Immediately the Pharisees went out and started plotting with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.
Jesus was quite empathetic toward the sick and demonically possessed. For Him it was better to bring healing and freedom than to be unmercifully legalistic and permit one to stay in misery. He demonstrated that the Kingdom of God is superior to the religious Sabbath observances and temple worship.
The irony is that no one appeared to realize that the miracle they witnessed was a near duplication of the miracle that occurred nearly a thousand years earlier to King Jeroboam. He built a pagan altar in Bethel to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles and declared himself to be the acting priest. When a “man of God” cried out against the altar, Jeroboam stretched out his right hand to stop him. However, the king’s hand became shriveled up “so that he could not pull it back” (1 Kg. 13:1-7). At the same time the altar split apart and the ashes poured out. As Josephus said, the king understood that the prophet had divine foreknowledge. Evidently Jeroboam repented because he asked the “man of God” to intercede to God for him that his right hand might be healed. It was.
Another example of a Sabbath “violation” that was conveniently overlooked was the Israelite seven-day march around Jericho. Obviously one of those seven days had to have been a Sabbath day, and the processional march far exceeded Sabbath day walking restrictions of the first century.
“Whose right hand was paralyzed.” The ancient physician made a precise observation, and wrote with a Greek participle that indicates that the paralyzed hand was the result of an accident or disease, not congenital. The result of the miracle reveals the profound social implications it caused. To the ancients the right hand was the hand of blessing and authority and is believed to be the origin of the modern handshake. This belief was derived from the same attributes assigned to the right hand of God. Conversely, the left hand was the hand of cursing and personal hygiene. Because of this, Jews were right-handed and food was eaten from a common bowl with the right hand, whether at home or at social gatherings. The man with the paralyzed right hand was, therefore, not welcomed at social functions since he had to serve himself with his left hand. To make matters worse, it was thought that his disability was a curse of God. The idea that an accident or illness could be the natural result of a fallen world never occurred to them. Hence, he was prevented from worshiping God in the temple. He lived with constant condemnation and was a social outcast. When Jesus healed him, He also gave him freedom from condemnation, freedom to be with others at social functions, freedom to become self-sufficient and no longer a beggar, and freedom to worship God anywhere he wanted.
At this time Jesus was demonstrating His Messiahship through teachings and healings. Hence, He healed selected individuals who had no faith in Him as the Healer. The faith element would become significant later. Those in attendance were forced to consider His Messianic claims in light of their Scriptures. Hence, there was always a debate among observers wherever He traveled.
I was a stone mason, seeking my living with my hands. I pray you, Jesus, to give me back my living with my hands.
Gospel of the Hebrews
But little more than that is unknown. His injury was probably from working on a Herodian construction site, such as the temple.
“The scribes and Pharisees were watching Him … so that they could find a charge against Him.” This phrase obviously suggests that the man with the paralyzed or shriveled hand was placed in the audience so the critics could accuse Jesus of violating the Oral Law (response below). The Pharisees were usually synonymous with the teachers of the Law, which is why it is at times difficult to distinguish them from the scribes. All the Pharisees who were members of the Sanhedrin were scribes (cf. Mt. 23:7-8). Nonetheless, they were desperately searching for a charge against Jesus and, in response, notice what Jesus did not do.
- He did not ask the man for his name
- He did not touch the man
- He did not question him
- He did not preach at him
- He did not ask him to exercise the paralyzed arm after it was healed.
Jesus merely told him to stretch out his arm, and that request did not violate any written or oral command. This was frustrating because they realized that He knew the Scriptures better than they did, even to the verb tenses. Note the following:
- Jesus believed every word of the Old Testament.
- Jesus believed the Old Testament communities and the accounts of various individuals who lived and functioned as portrayed in Scripture. Examples are:
- Noah and the flood (Mt. 24:37-39; Lk. 17:26-27)
- Abraham (Jn. 8:56-58)
- Isaac and Jacob (Mt. 8:11; Lk. 13:28)
- Sodom and Gomorrah (Mt. 10:15; 11:23-24; Lk. 10:12)
“To save life.” Acts of necessity, mercy, and worship never violated the Sabbath. Jesus again demonstrated the hypocrisy of the Pharisees by pointing out that the Pharisaic tradition placed a higher value on a sheep in a pit than a man with a shriveled hand. They would help an injured sheep, but not one of their fellow Jews. Here Jesus alluded to the rabbinical expression that the Pharisees themselves ignored, but one that was well known and a part of the Oral Law:
Therefore but a single man was created in the world, to teach that if any man has caused a single soul to perish Scripture imputes it to him as though he had caused the whole world to perish; and that if any man saves a life of a single soul Scripture imputes it to him as though he had saved a whole world.
Mishnah, Sanhedrin 4:5
There was also a rule against placing a dislocated foot or hand in cold water to give comfort to the injured person. But another law within the category of Sabbath restrictions is as if to say, “If you are healed, what can you do about it?”
If a man’s hand or foot is dislocated he may not pour cold water over it, but he may wash it after his usual fashion, and if he be healed, he is healed.
Mishnah, Shabbath 22.6
“Looking around at them with anger.” Seldom was Jesus became angry. Note carefully, however, that He was angry with their selfish, stubborn attitude and because they were failing to meet the needs of the people. He was angry at “the hardness of their hearts.” The hardening of the heart begins with one’s own desires, until the day comes when the Lord gives one what he wants – a life without God. The Greek word is porosis, a hardness of the heart that cared little for human life.
- They defined religion as a legalistic list of rules and regulations.
- They had lost all sense of human empathy and compassion for those who were suffering
These cold, cold attitudes even kept the religious leaders from recognizing their own sins, as they had hardened their hearts past the proverbial point of no return.
“How they might destroy Him.” Jesus frequently presented a counter-point argument to the accusations and challenges presented by the religious elite. His counter-point was always stronger, fuller, and a clearer declaration of the truth. These public discussions brought immense humiliation to them, but the common people loved Jesus, because, finally, someone was bold enough to speak out against their corrupt leaders. However, since the religious leaders repeatedly lost their theological arguments, they planned on numerous occasions to kill Him.
Finally, this miracle took place early in the ministry of Jesus when He performed miracles without the need of faith of those who were sick. The primary reason is that at this point in time, the miracles were validating His person and message. Jesus did not come to be a Healer of human bodies, but to be a Healer of souls. Miracles, with Jesus, were only a means to a higher end, credentials to enforce the reception of spiritual truth. Once the general public began to understand Him, He healed only those who had faith in Him as the Healer.
. Jeroboam and Joash (2 Kg. 13:1-2; 2 Chron. 24:20-22) are among fifty biblical names whose existence has been verified by archaeological studies in a published article by Lawrence Mykytiuk titled, “Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible.” Biblical Archaeology Review. March/April, 2014 (40:2), pages 42-50, 68. This archaeological evidence confirms the historical accuracy of the biblical timeline. For further study, see the website for Associates for Biblical Research, as well as Grisanti, “Recent Archaeological Discoveries that Lend Credence to the Historicity of the Scriptures.” 475-98.
. Josephus, Antiquities 8.8.5.
. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:174.
. See Appendix 22 and http://home.comcast.net/~jovial/learn/bible/GospelHebrews.htm. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
. The reader is reminded that quotations from non-biblical sources are not to be understood as being of equal authority with the biblical narratives. See 01.02.04.
. One ancient legend is the story of the man with the withered right hand went on to build a palace for Emperor Nero that had a secret room for Christians. Little wonder then, that Jesus and the Apostle Paul both cautioned believers to be aware of false teachers. Two modern writers who promote a variety of creative stories are: 1) Ron Charles, who has gathered scores of fanciful legends and myths, mostly written between the sixth and sixteenth centuries, that pertain to the life of Christ in his book titled, The Search: A Historian’s Search for Historical Jesus. (Self-Published, 2007), and 2) Nicholas Notovich, whose book, The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ. Virchand R. Gandhi, Trans. Dover Pub.) is a so-called historical account of when Jesus went to Asia to study between the ages 13 and 29.
. Barclay, “Matthew.” 2:30-31; See also http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/gospelhebrews.html Retrieved August 1, 2013.
. Mt. 3:7; 15:1; Mk. 2: 16, 24; Lk. 11:38.
. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 59.
. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 236. Being a scribe was a family occupation, handed down from one generation to another. For a list of families of scribes, see I Chronicles 2:55, and for a “company of scribes,” see 1 Maccabees 7:12.
. See 02.04.06 “Sabbath Day Observances.”
. For additional Sabbath regulations, see Jubilees 50:6-13 at 02.04.06. In fact, during the Maccabean Revolt, since the Jews refused to fight on the Sabbath, the Greeks slaughtered more than a thousand men, women, and children. Thereafter they decided to defend themselves so as not to be removed from the face of the earth (1 Macc. 2:31-38).
. Barclay, A New Testament Wordbook. 102.