The Man with the Withered Hand
Written by Pastor James Dorman
Matt. 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6 & Luke 6:6-11
- Thoughts from Matthew, Mark and Luke:
Matthew 12:9–14 (NIV84): Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.
Mark 3:1–6 (NIV84) “Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
Luke 6:6–11 (NIV84): “On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. 7 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. 8 But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there.
9 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”
10 He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 11 But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.”
- Passage Outline
The Man with the Withered Hand
Matt. 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6 & Luke 6:1-11
I. Jesus Enters the Synagogue and Views a Man with a Withered Hand (Matt. 12:9-10a; Mk. 3:1; Lk. 6:7)
II. Pharisees wait to Strike (Matt. 12:10b; Mk. 3:2; Lk. 6:7)
III. The Healing Event and Following Dialogue (Matt. 12:11-13; Mk. 3:3-5; Lk. 6:8-10)
a. Jesus Gives Direction to the Man and Asks the Pharisees a Question (Mk. 3:3-4; Lk. 6:8-9)
b. Jesus Compares Humanity to Property (Mt. 12:11-12)
c. Jesus Surveys the Room and Grieves at Their Hardened Hearts (Matt. 12:13; Mk. 3:5; Luke 6:10)
IV. The Pharisees Response was to Plot Jesus’ Death (Mt. 12:14; Mk. 3:6; Lk. 6:11)
- Information to Consider
The Danger to Follow: Intent to Kill (6:6–11)
SUPPORTING IDEA: Faith faces decisions that may be risky and even life-threatening.
6:6. “Luke makes the point another way. Jesus followed pharisaic custom. He used the Sabbath to go to synagogue worship. As usual, he was chosen as visiting teacher for the day. Someone else shared the spotlight with him, a man with a shriveled right hand. Two mission statements stood diametrically opposed: the Pharisees’ mission to ensure the observance of the law according to their interpretations and Jesus’ mission to “release the oppressed” (4:18). Would Jesus be true to his mission, or would he seek to appease the religious power brokers?
6:7. The Pharisees were also on a mission. They wanted evidence against Jesus. They watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath.
6:8–10. Jesus knew their thoughts. He called the man to center stage so everyone could see. He called on the Pharisees for a decision: which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it? Silence greeted the question. Their law allowed exceptions to the Sabbath rules forbidding work, including healing, on the Sabbath. Healing was permissible for life-threatening situations. No question this was life-threatening. It was lifelong. Stretch out your hand, Jesus told the man. He accomplished one more part of his mission. Would the Pharisees dare attack him for helping a person in such need?
6:11. There was no time for action by the Pharisees—just planning and plotting. In great anger they plotted to get rid of this Sabbath-breaking nuisance who claimed to be Master of their Sabbath. How often do good intentions lead God’s people to take over God’s position and defend him?”
- Questions to Ponder
a. Why did Jesus look upon them with anger? (Mk. 3:5)
b. Why did they wish to destroy Jesus? (Mk. 3:6)
c. Why did they consult with the Herodians? Who were they? (Mk. 3:6)
d. Explain the difference between Mt. 12:10 and Lk. 6:8.
- Author’s Comments
In one of my recent comments, I discussed the importance of understanding Jesus’ statement that God’s people would soon be worshiping in “Spirit and in Truth” This passage reflects some of the insights discussed in the “Author’s Comments” of Lesson 35.
In Mark 3, Jesus asked the Pharisees, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” A direct question with two very obvious answers – of course it is better to do good rather than evil and much better to save life rather than to take it. But, when faced with the question, the Pharisees simply remained silent.
Jesus, then healed the man with the withered hand. Following this amazing act of compassion, the Pharisees responded by seeking to find a way to take the life of Jesus. It is hard to imagine the leadership of God’s earthly family acting in such a fashion, but it occurred and their actions eventually ended with Jesus’s death on Calvary.
I pray the Church in our world today remains so completely connected with God it communicates and lives according to God’s Word while also being known for its deep love and compassion to all who inhabit the world in which we live.
- Closing Prayer
Thank You for the revelation contained within Your Word. How else would we come to know and understand Your truth. May we always remain dedicated to worshiping You according to Your absolute truth.
In addition, may we remain deeply connected to Your Spirit and through this connection may we be communicators of life, compassion, and mercy. It is a difficult line to navigate, but may our lives be living examples of people who worship You in Spirit and in Truth.
In Jesus’ Name, AMEN
- Answers to “Questions to Ponder”
a. Jesus was deeply disappointed at the hardness of their hearts. He was angry at their misconception of righteousness – a view which led the Pharisees to choose religious rules of caring relationships.
b. There are two main possibilities: (1) they were envious of the growing influence of Jesus due to His instruction and miraculous manifestations which were undermining their own leadership and influence within the Jewish community; and, (2) they were sincerely dealing with an issue of concern – the fact they believed Jesus was presenting heretical material and undermining the orthodoxy of the Jewish faith. The Gospels seem to consistently point to the first possibility as the most likely.
c. While the Sanhedrin had tremendous ruling power within Israel, they did not have the ability to put anyone to death without the support and approval of the Roman secular government.
The Herodians were members of the Jewish faith who had become adherents of Herod over the Chief High Priest. They had tried to make a Messiah of Herod the Great, had become great friends of Rome, and pursuers of Gentile influence over the influence of the Sanhedrin within the Jewish community.
d. While they were most likely whispering among themselves out of Jesus’ earshot, Jesus knew their thoughts anyway. With this being the reality, He simply embarked on answering their unspoken questions.
C:\Users\jim\Documents\Harmony of the Gospels\Lesson 51.The Man with the Withered Hand.Matt 12.9to14.Mark 3.1to6.luke 6.6to11.docx
 Butler, T. C. (2000). Luke (Vol. 3, p. 91). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.