The Challenge of Jesus
:: Some of ideas of this post come from John Dear’s Jesus the Rebel ::
Read at a surface level, Mark 3 is a story about Jesus healing a man. “Stretch out your hand and be healed” and the deed is accomplished. At a deeper level, this story is about justice, resistance, and a love of humanity. In context, Jesus asks the Pharisees if it is ok to heal the man on the Sabbath. According to their beliefs, one probably could not be healed on the Sabbath, because all works on the Sabbath are for God. What’s important is that Jesus asks. The Pharisees respond with silence. What does this mean? We’ll the Pharisees are in a ‘yes/no’ situation. Yes, allow Jesus to heal the man. Jesus wants this answer. This answer elevates the man to being cared of by God. This answer elevates Jesus as one who is able to heal and recognizes his ability to forgive sin.
In the negative, the Pharisees can also answer no. They can cite that the Law disallows one to work on the Sabbath and that the day is reserved for God alone. This answer too is problematic, because this is not a private discussion but a public debate. Jesus and the man needing healing are in the synagogue with many other people. The Pharisees would practically be telling these people that God does not care about this injured man in this moment and that the healing should be denied. This too would be an unpopular answer among the crowds.
The Pharisees choose neither and elect for silence. Afterwards they plot with the Herodians to kill Jesus. Why do these people want to kill Jesus? He healed a person … and usurped the religious authority. Importantly, Jesus exposed the unjust law/teachings of the Pharisees to the people of the synagogue. Jesus showed the Pharisees as frauds to the people that listened to them. Do the Pharisees respond with debate? Or do they change their ways? No! They plot to murder Jesus. Not only do the Pharisees not want this man to be healed, but they are also capable of plotting murder.
Jesus is an excellent example in this story about doing what’s right in the face of negative consequences. Some of us may also identify with the Pharisees and teachers in the story who belief life to be a specific way, but encounter good outside our comfort zone. To we respond to the ‘healing’ Other in our own lives or do we reject it based off of our skewed view of the world. God lead us to be open to your goodness; however it appears.