Doing Good on the Sabbath

The Man with the Withered Hand

The Man with the Withered Hand (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Matthew 12:9–14 (ESV)

9 He went on from there and entered their synagogue. 10 And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him. 11 He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.

Parallel Texts: Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11

Understanding and Applying the Word

Once again, the religious leaders are looking for a reason to accuse Jesus. In this passage, they are waiting for him to heal someone on the Sabbath. In response to their question, Jesus asks if they would rescue their sheep from a well on the Sabbath if it fell in. Of course they would! Well, if a person is of more value than an animal, why would it be wrong to heal someone on the Sabbath? Then Jesus healed the man with a withered hand. The religious leaders were not happy with Jesus and they sought how to destroy him.

Legalism is a dangerous mindset towards God’s word. Those who live this way may follow the letter of the word, but they often fail at the weightier matters that the law intends to address. What good is it to obey the letter of the law and fail to exercise love and compassion towards others? This is why Jesus said, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice,” in verse 7. Such “obedience” does not please God and can often become an excuse for selfishness and pride. Let us hear the words of Jesus and seek to love our neighbors by doing what is good and right.

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Authority to Forgive Sins

The Man Let Down through the Roof

The Man Let Down through the Roof (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Mark 2:1–12 (ESV)

1 And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Parallel Texts: Matthew 9:1-8; Luke 5:17-26

Understanding and Applying the Word

When Jesus returned to Capernaum, word got out that he was home. Many showed up to see and hear him. One group went taking a man who was paralyzed. They wanted Jesus to heal him. When they could not get to Jesus because of the crowd, they made a hole through the roof and lowered the man down to Jesus. They would not be stopped!

The determination of these men was a reflection of their faith in Jesus. When Jesus saw this, he declared, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” This proclamation did not sit well with the scribes, who were also in attendance. They wondered how Jesus could claim to forgive sins. After all, only God had that authority! So to address their questions, Jesus performed a miracle to show he had the authority to forgive sins. He told the paralytic to “rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And the man did so.

Jesus’ miracle showed that his words of forgiveness were not just words, but were backed with authority and power. Jesus would tell the people that they too could have their sins forgiven and be reconciled to God. All they had to do was trust in him. All who would believe Jesus and trust in him would find forgiveness and eternal life. Later, Jesus went to the cross as a sacrifice for sin and then rose from the dead victorious over sin and death, once again proving that he had all power and authority to do all that he had said.

**Read through the Life of Christ in 2019 by following along with Shaped by the Word. Just subscribe to this page and be sure to read along every day!

From Unclean to Clean

Healing of the Lepers at Capernaum

Healing of the Lepers at Capernaum (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Mark 1:40–45 (ESV)

40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.

Parallel Texts: Matthew 8:2-4; Luke 5:12-16

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus continued to grow in popularity because of his ability to perform signs, a man went to him to be healed of leprosy. The man begged Jesus to heal him, saying, “If you will, you can make me clean.” He had no doubt that Jesus could heal him, but would Jesus do it? We read that Jesus was moved with pity, reached out and touched him, and healed him.

Afterward, Jesus instructed the man to tell no one of what had happened, but to go to the priest to go through what is outlined in Leviticus 14:1-20 for cases of leprosy. The man was so excited about what had taken place, he went out and spoke freely about it. This caused Jesus’ growing fame to become even greater as people rushed out to see him.

Leprosy was a term used for many skin diseases in the Ancient Near East. One who had leprosy was isolated from the community and labeled “unclean.” There were strict laws concerning leprosy, including laws about what happened when one came into contact with a leprous person. If a “clean” person touched a person with leprosy, the clean person also became unclean out of fear of spreading the disease. However, when Jesus touched this man, Jesus did not become unclean. The man with leprosy became clean. This is such an amazing thing to understand. Jesus has the power to make the unclean clean! This is what he does for every sinner who will call on him in faith. He removes the stain of sin from our lives and presents us before the Father as spotless and clean.

**Read through the Life of Christ in 2019 by following along with Shaped by the Word. Just subscribe to this page and be sure to read along every day!

Jesus’ Power to Heal

All the City Was Gathered at His Door

All the City Was Gathered at His Door (Public Domain)

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish devotional material on Sundays, but I include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Christ in 2019.

Reading the Word

Luke 4:40–41 (ESV)

40 Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. 41 And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.

Parallel Texts: Matthew 8:16-17; Mark 1:32-34

 

Called to Serve

The Healing of Peter's Mother-in-law

The Healing of Peter’s Mother-in-Law (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Mark 1:29–31 (ESV)

29 And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

Parallel Texts: Matthew 8:14-15; Luke 4:38-39

Understanding and Applying the Word

We read here that Jesus went to the home of Simon and Andrew. He withdrew from the public eye and was in a private setting. We are told that Simon’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever. There are two things to note here. Simon is Peter. Jesus will change his name to Peter later, but that is the name we usually know him by. Also, Peter must have been married, given that he had a mother-in-law.

Jesus went to Peter’s mother-in-law and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Presumably, she was lying down and he helped her to her feet. Immediately, her fever was gone. Jesus had healed her and once again showed his great power and authority.

Notice the response of Peter’s mother-in-law. We are told that she “began to serve them.” The word “serve” in this text is the word that we get “deacon” from, which simply speaks of one who serves. Throughout the New Testament, we read of the great importance of serving others as a response to what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. Peter’s mother-in-law gives us a glowing example of the proper response to God’s grace in our lives. We are called to serve.

**Read through the Life of Christ in 2019 by following along with Shaped by the Word. Just subscribe to this page and be sure to read along every day!

Belief in a World of Unbelief

john 450 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 4:43–54 (ESV)

43 After the two days he departed for Galilee. 44 (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.) 45 So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast.

46 So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” 49 The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. 51 As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. 52 So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. 54 This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.

Parallel Texts: Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:14-15

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus returns to Cana where he had performed his first miracle, the turning of water to wine. While he is there an official goes to Jesus to ask him to heal his son who was very ill. The Greek word used here indicates that this man was a royal official, probably of Herod’s court. He had most likely heard about Jesus’ earlier miracle and went to see Jesus concerning his son. Jesus’ initial response seems harsh as he replies, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The man asks Jesus to go to his son and Jesus tells him his son will live. The official believes Jesus and goes home to find his son healed.

Why did Jesus reply to the man so harshly at first? We must not overlook the beginning verses of this section for the answer. In verse 44, Jesus had testified that a prophet has no honor in his hometown. The people are welcoming him and accepting him, but only because of the miracles. They do not fully believe in him. So, when Jesus replies to the official he says, “Unless you see signs…” The “you” is in the second person plural. Jesus is not addressing the man in particular, but the mindset of all of the people. When Jesus tells the man his son would be healed, the text tells us that this official believed his words. When he receives report of his son being well, we are told that he believed and all of his household believed with him.

Here we find a reminder that even in the midst of great unbelief, there are those who will trust in Jesus. We may often feel like it is a hopeless thing to proclaim the gospel to an unbelieving world, but this is not true. God is still calling people to himself through the message of the gospel. Unbelievers are still turning in faith to Jesus Christ. Let us not lose heart, but let us continue to proclaim that Jesus has come to give life to all who will believe.

**Read through the Life of Christ in 2019 by following along with Shaped by the Word. Just subscribe to this page and be sure to read along every day!