And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. -Mark 3:1-4 (KJV)
The Word of God shows us that Jesus consistently chose meeting human need over keeping the letter of the law. Jesus’ critics held to a strict interpretation of the Old Testament which held that no work of any kind could be done on the Sabbath day. This included providing any sort of medical treatment except for what had to be done to save someone’s life. The man Jesus met in the synagogue had been suffering due to his withered hand. Jesus decided to heal him right then rather than waiting until the Sabbath was over.
One might think that those watching would have rejoiced over this wonderful movement of divine healing power which Christ brought about, but sadly they were too focused on trying to keep the letter of the law. Their stern legalism blinded them to the needs of those around them. As a result, what could have been a time of rejoicing and praise to God turned into a bitter hatred of the Lord Jesus, as seen in verse six: “And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.”
As followers of Christ, let us always follow Jesus’ example of placing human need over and above the letter of the law. People may come into our churches that are shabbily dressed and lacking in proper hygiene. The letter of the law says to bar their entrance and insist that they go home and get cleaned up first. Human need says to reach out to them and show them the love of Jesus Christ. The letter of the law looks down on sinners and reprobates, but seeing human need leads us to witness to them of the life-changing power of Jesus Christ.
The letter of the law narrows our focus to see only a set of rules, regulations, and ritual. Seeing human need broadens our vision and allows us to look at the fields of human souls and see that they are ripe for a harvest (John 4:35).
Christ calls us to reach out to the lost souls that are all around us. Let’s never grow tired of sharing the love of Jesus. Troubled souls are everywhere. Jesus brings hope. Look to Him today.