Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 12:13 (Holman) Then He told the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So
he stretched it out, and it was restored, as good as the other.
A. T. Robertson said he hoped the man pointed his hand straight toward the Pharisees. Maybe he said “Take that!” before He pointed toward Jesus and told them, “Believe Him!” We know several facts about this cure.
First, the cure was genuine. Skeptics say it was merely a mind game, hocus-pocus sleight of hand, a psychological trick.
Every psychologist I know would love to have one-tenth of this kind of power. Imagine a counselor coming home and when asked how her day went, replying, “Kind of slow; all day long I was able to heal only one paralyzed hand.”
Second, the cure was miraculous. It defied human explanations. The hand was helplessly withered, wilted, and powerless. All dexterity had been long gone.
The healing power of Jesus was linked to nothing physical–no liniment, no ointment, no rubbing alcohol, no emu oil, no medicine. Everything hinged on the spiritual, on faith verified when the man obeyed. His obedience showed his spirit, proving he was placing his trust totally in Jesus’ miraculous healing power.
The man solely needed to obey. If he did harbor intellectual difficulties, they were lost in the effort to obey. The attempt to obey is sometimes a sufficient act of prayer to prove faith is present. The effort to obey, if neither boastful nor an attempt to show off, nor an effort at self-help, can be a prayer of faith.
To obey God is a noble activity, better than sacrifice. Luther said, “I would rather obey than be able to work miracles.” The first sin in the world was one of disobedience. It brought every evil with it. Always move toward obedience.
Third, the cure was immediate. No long wait was required, no recuperation time after surgery was needed. Instantly nerves began transmitting signals, blood flowed, muscles flexed, tendons stretched, fingers opened.
I once pulled a tendon in my knee. Dr. Brockman examined me thoroughly and said, “You will be well in about a year.” A year!??! I almost fainted. Sure enough, 11 months later I was well. Jesus dispensed a faster acting medicine.
Fourth, the cure was absolute. No follow-up visits and no physical therapy were required. Every physical therapist in the room should say “Wow!” There weren’t even any insurance forms to fill out–a miracle indeed.
You who are in the healing arts, let me remind you your profession is rooted in our faith, in Christianity. Secularization hopes we’ll forget this truth. Medicine is God’s gift. Those who dispense it honor Him.
The historic Christian view of the healing profession is, medical personnel are co-workers with Christ. Anyone who helps heal people helps Jesus. Healing the sick is an extension of Jesus’ compassion. Curing the body is as much a God-given task as is curing the spirit, though the former’s benefits last not as long.
As instruments of God’s grace, healers stand in the stead of Jesus. Always bear His demeanor as well as His healing art.
Matt. 12:14 “But the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.”
What’s wrong with this picture? These were religious men. They scrupled over a trifle, claiming it was a sin to heal on the Sabbath, yet had no qualms about assassination. Plotting murder against a kind, innocent man was a sacred task.
Few sins are more dangerous than envy. It poisons the spirit. Are we jealous of anyone? If so, squelch it. Flee to Jesus. Don’t nurse it. Get rid of it.
Matt. 12:15 “When Jesus became aware of this, He withdrew from there. Huge crowds followed Him, and He healed them all.”
Any who reject Jesus do not thwart Him. He merely leaves the rejecters to go bless others elsewhere. In this scene, the religious leaders were the losers.
Kindness and healing flowed from Jesus like a tsunami, but they missed it. Their meanness carried its own punishment. By driving away Jesus’ presence, they slammed shut the door of goodness, and turned off the faucet of blessing.
They were left to themselves, abandoned to their own devices, murderers dealing with murderers. When Jesus left, their clock of blessing stopped ticking.
The leaders could keep Christ from staying, but could not keep people from following Him. He held strong appeal–still does. Learn winsomeness from our Master. Don’t let the unkindness of others to us make us unkind to others.
Through it all, Jesus remained a fountain of blessing. People mattered to Him. Nothing is more sacred to God than people. He wants them to enter into a personal relationship with Him. We are to woo them to Him every way possible.
The leaders were ready to war, but the time had not yet come for a head-on collision. Jesus, not the religious leaders, will determine God’s calendar of events.
Don’t think for a second Jesus feared these men. Psalm 2:2-4 foreshadowed the very type of circumstance described in our text. “The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers conspire together against the Lord and His Anointed One: “Let us tear off their chains and free ourselves from their restraints.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord ridicules them.” When the Son comes, only one response would be adequate. “Pay homage to the Son (literally, Kiss the Son), or He will be angry, and you will perish in your rebellion” (PS 2:12a).
The incarnate Lord God of the Universe was not frightened by these men. He is still fearless before His detractors. Recently perdition seems let loose in this country against our Savior. A flood of anti-Christ literature is spewing our way.
The novel, The Da Vinci Code, and others are touting Gospels of Thomas, Philip, Mary, Judas, ad nauseam, as if these counterfeits can compare with the four true Gospels. What comparison does straw have with wheat? These less than lackluster also-rans are in quality childish at best when compared to the real deal.
Charles Hedrick, professor emeritus at Missouri State, and internationally recognized expert in Christian origins says of the skeptical world’s latest rage, the Judas Gospel, “Six months from now, people will forget all about it.”
Brothers and sisters, do homework. Know how to give an answer about these documents if asked. But do not fret. John Edie reminded us succinctly in staff meeting, “Remember. We won.” Amen. We won, we win, we will win.
We won in the empty tomb. We serve a risen Savior. His death paid for the sins of the world. His resurrection proved He is the God we believe Him to be.
We win in the sheer joy of living for Jesus daily. Our sins are forgiven, our guilt is gone, our cup of damnation has been drunk dry, we fear no condemnation.
In the end, we will win. Long after The Da Vinci Code and all the other disbelieving books being fawned over are being yawned over, the Bible will still be being read at funerals. Many of the Bible’s harshest critics will be buried within sight of tombstones bearing Bible verses. When the trump of God sounds, and they rise from their graves, their first written message to read will be a Bible verse.
Dear fellow believers, we won, we win, we will win. Are we living like it? Do we believe, yea embrace, these truths? Is joy the dominant trait of our lives?