The Call to Discipleship in The Gospel of Mark, Day 15
3Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3And he said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Come forward.’ 4Then he said to them, ‘Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?’ But they were silent. 5He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. Mark 3:1-6If the rules of religion get in the way of compassion, what do you choose? Jesus is again entering synagogue on the Sabbath, where the religious have gathered to test him. They have placed in his path a man with a withered hand. What will Jesus do? They already know that compassion and mercy guide Jesus' interactions with those who are hurt, sick, excluded. They had set him up so they could accuse him of not following the law. Jesus said to the man, 'come here.' And then he spoke to the religious, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good, to save a life." Jesus was angry, when he looked around at them. He grieved at the hardness of their hearts. They would rather allow harm to come to someone than to bend the rules. So he said to the man, 'stretch out your hand.' He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The pharisees, the religious went out and met with the Herodians (a group Mark created), the collaborators the local government who worked closely with the Roman Empire. So one group of religious folk met with the political group that wasn't much liked. Jesus while having no direct confrontation with political forces, has stirred up trouble by showing compassion. These group plot to destroy him.
So how does this scripture speak to us today. Mark is trying to move forward the story of discipleship asking us to think about how we practice our faith - what is more important to save a life and do good? Do we allow the rules to challenge the way God's Spirit is calling us to live out our faith? Do we use our discomfort with change to bully or stall the work of God? How do we save a life and does that put us at odds with political system or with common norms? As I think about this I reminded of my introduction to the sanctuary movement of the 80's. During this time there was a lot of political turmoil in central and south America, where our government was supporting some really awful dictators. The people struggling against those dictators were being killed. Some of them would make their way to the US and would seek shelter in local churches. And these churches saw one of their missions as to provide sanctuary from these terrible circumstances. As a high school student, I attended a a youth event and we learned about and met people seeking sanctuary and people providing sanctuary. This changed how I thought about what the rule of a church is, for we are called to save lives. Have you looked at how your church community is saving lives, taking stands that aren't popular but are part of our faith?
Ask God to show you people who need your help, who are lost, who are floundering, who need their life saved. Ask Jesus to let you see them with his eyes, to yearn for them with his heart. Ask Jesus to let your heart break for them. Then pray for them. Hear Jesus saying to them, 'Come here.' And do anything for them you are supposed to do. Amen.
Heal Over KT Tunstall