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Mark 3:16; 5:2143; 10:1316comment (0)

January 14, 2010

By Cecil Taylor

Related Scripture: Mark 3:16; 5:2143; 10:1316

Explore the Bible
Dean, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

Mark 3:1–6; 5:21–43; 10:13–16

Healing a Withered Hand (3:1–6)

In a synagogue one Sabbath was a man with a hand “having been withered.” Some of the people “kept watching [Jesus] closely,” spying with malicious intent, to see if He would heal the man and violate Jewish rules for keeping the Sabbath. Rabbis said it was illegal to heal on the Sabbath unless life was in danger. A withered hand hardly qualified as a critical condition. Indeed the hand probably had been withered for years. Healing on the Sabbath in the absence of a life-threatening circumstance was a work deserving of death (Ex. 31:14).

Jesus commanded the man to stand so all could see his pitiful condition. “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath?” He asked. They would not give the true answer — on the Sabbath, to do good was allowed and to do evil forbidden. They dared not give the other answer — the Sabbath was the one day on which good was forbidden and evil demanded. Jesus’ point was that God approves all kinds of good work on the Sabbath as the need presents itself. Indeed the choice lies between “doing good” and “doing evil,” not between “doing good” and “doing nothing.” Not to do good to a person needing it is to do him or her evil.

The Pharisees were licked but would not admit it. “They remained silent.” Their hardness of heart grieved Him. He healed the man.

A common enemy makes strange bedfellows. The Pharisees (anti-Rome) left in a fury to join forces with the Herodians (pro-Rome) to plot Jesus’ death. They thought it horrible for Jesus to heal on the Sabbath but had no qualms about plotting a murder on that day.

A Dead Girl and a Bleeding Woman (5:21–43)
A synagogue official named Jairus begged Jesus to come to his house and heal his dying daughter. Even His staunchest enemies could not deny Jesus did miracles. On His way, a woman with chronic hemophilia reached out from the crowd to touch His garment. Far from superstition, her gesture may have been a customary way of getting attention and asking for help. When she confessed what she had done, Jesus made it clear that the power that healed her was not in His clothes but in Him.

While He was speaking to her, messengers came with the news that Jairus’ daughter was dead. Jesus comforted the man, dismissed the crowd and took only Peter, James and John to Jairus’ house. Mourning had already begun. Jesus said she was not dead but only sleeping. Some think Jesus meant she was just in a coma, e.g., “not dead,” and needed only to be healed. More likely, Jesus meant the girl’s death was no more permanent than a nap because He was about to raise her up. Putting all the mourners out of the house, Jesus took the grieving parents and three disciples into the child’s room. He took her hand and commanded, “Get up.” She did. The family was to keep the secret as long as possible to allow Jesus to get away from the crushing mob outside. The girl ate food to prove she was really alive. Ghosts do not eat. The main point here is that the power of Jesus extended to raising the dead, a thing as impossible in the first century as in the 21st. Rabbis said only God could give new life to the dead. If only God could raise the dead but Jesus did, then Jesus must be God. They should have known who He was.

Blessing Children (10:13–16)
Neither pagans nor Jews had much use for children in the first century. As parents “kept bringing” children to Jesus, the disciples “kept rebuking” them (the pronoun is masculine, suggesting it was fathers who brought the youngsters). The disciples probably wanted to spare the Master this added burden and intrusion. Indignant, He gave an order: “Stop hindering them.” He took the moment to teach them about receiving the kingdom of God as a child. Children are receptive and content to depend on another. The Lord receives any who come to Him with such an attitude.

Then Jesus took the children in His arms and “kept on fervently blessing them.” Here is no warrant for infant baptism. There is no mention of water, babies or baptism anywhere in the story. However, the event does offer plenty of ground for child evangelism.

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