Luke 6: On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered.  And 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.  But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there.  And 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?”  And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored.  But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
Another Sabbath controversy. Luke has told us of one when Jesus and His disciples picked grain, rubbed it between their hands and ate. Now he tells us of a healing on the Sabbath.
We are told that the man’s right hand was withered. Why do we need to know it was the right hand? Not every detail of a story is relevant to the account except that it gives it some context and prevents the story from becoming boring. Is that what Luke is doing here? I don’t think so. His right hand is withered. The right hand is the hand of power. It is the hand for working. It is more serious to have one’s right hand crippled than one’s left. No offense here to south paws, but it is just a fact that most people are right handed and Luke’s point is that this is not a minor matter. This is serious because the man is unable to work and provide for himself and his family. Jesus is not performing cosmetic surgery.
This is an important point when we consider the complaint of the Pharisees. They do not care about the man’s ability to work or provide for others. They care more about their own preconceived notions of what it means to be holy.
Verse 7 tells us that the Scribes and Pharisees watched to see if Jesus would heal on the Sabbath. What gave them the idea that He might? Because He had broken the Sabbath before (as far as they were concerned) and they knew that Jesus had such a heart of compassion that it would be hard for Him to pass this man by. They knew Jesus’ compassion. They knew that He might heal.
But it never entered their minds to think about the crippled man. The man is incidental to them. He is no more than a catalyst to enable them to take Jesus to task for breaking their rules.
How we can be like these Pharisees! We too, can use people and see them as no more than an opportunity for us to get ahead or show ourselves to be better then we really are. We can help people so that others will know how helpful we are. We can correct people so they will know how right we are. We can talk to people so they will know how much we know. We can drop names on people so they will know how well connected we are (would someone please kill the phrase “my good friend …”). We can quote authors and poets, crack jokes, help them, pray with them, pray for them, all with sinful motives. It just goes on and on.
There is good reason Jesus said not to let our right hand know what the left hand is doing. And it all stems from this, that we see ourselves as better than others and desire them to see us.
How great a teacher was Jesus!! He truly loved those He taught and helped. And when He drew attention to Himself it was because He deserved it. He is the Son of God and it can never be pride to draw people’s attention to Him, even if you are Him.
Our goal is to draw attention to Him, not us. Let us never see others as an opportunity to prove something about ourselves. Let us see them as people made in the image of God whom God has placed in our lives for their good and His glory. Be such a person of integrity and compassion that when there is opportunity to do good, people will be watching you, expecting you to do something.