6On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. 8But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. 9And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” 10And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. 11But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus. Luke 6:6-11
Jesus did not compel all He met to honour Him as Lord of the Sabbath. However, He would not be denied. With or without honour the mission of establishing His kingdom would go on. He did not allow this man with a withered right hand to remain in his corner of shame to be used by those who sought to accuse Jesus of wrong-doing. With only a functional left hand this man was caught in a perpetual state of uncleanness and social estrangement. And now he was being used as bait.
Jesus called the man up and healed him. “Stretch out your hand.” In that moment Jesus disrespected the sacred conventions of the religious; and by extension he was a threat. If an honour deficit is allowed to rule the heart, the heart always moves towards fury and violence.
But, Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, more than covers the shame of honour deficits. The One who healed in the moment He said, “Stretch out your hand,” stretched out His own hands on a cross and carried our shame, our honour deficits, for our healing.
“22He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:22-25
Recent events at UBC and in the city of Vancouver has brought the on-going problem of violence by men against women to the forefront of the news. Students at UBC are on high-alert. In conversation I notice that some men admit that its difficult to address the prevailing attitudes that perpetuate violence against others. Why is it difficult for men to address each other on what is rightfully “not cool” and “not acceptable”?
Jackson Katz challenges men who care to speak up.
Yesterday violence erupted again in my neighbourhood and someone lay dead on the ground for the second time in as many weeks. For the most part I live my life from the space in between Main and Fraser in Vancouver. I enjoy these two streets and the different stories they are telling about the City. However my heart broke yesterday in hearing the account my neighbour told of taking children home and having to walk past the body of a young man absorbed in the darkness of lawlessness.
This morning I sat a few blocks from the corner where he died and reflected on what grounds for violence he and others in his realm have. The Lower Mainland is seemingly awash with those who would turn this western edge of the continent into their own wild playground. What has consumed their conscience and heart? Why have they abandoned the delight of life? Have they been deceived by the attraction of power? What vision of strength have they enshrined? What honour has been constructed that must be preserved? Do they truly want a life built on the survival of the strongest? What lies has the Evil One weaved into the fabric of their hearts?
Law is the tutor that highlights reality for the deadened conscience to recognize that something is wrong. But what’s next? Changed hearts and restored relationships are possible from a Christian worldview through the grace of God in Christ Jesus His Son. Into the grounds of violence God has planted a cross and empty tomb; He is shouting “you matter to me.”
This morning I prayed for our City in the tradition of Jesus a prayer that seeks to take back the ground and the lives of those sullied and sickened by violence, apathy, greed, denial, revenge, selfishness, bravado, and pain. Perhaps you will join me in voicing again the prayer of all Jesus’ disciples:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliever us from the evil one.