The Gospel of Luke | A Remarkable Distraction | Luke 6.6-11|

by | Feb 20, 2021

“On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled.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. 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. 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 the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus..” Luke 6.6-11

A few days ago was Ash Wednesday. In our corner of the world, the Texas Hill Country, it seemed downplayed if not forgotten. If Covid-19 wasn’t distracting enough, the arctic winter storm that has blasted most of the state prevented people from gathering to celebrate this beginning of Lent. The roads were icy, so there was no driving. Most people were simply trying to stay warm without electricity or fed without grocery stores being restocked. The storm took our minds off celebrating this day in the life of the church to survival and I’m waking up to still freezing temperatures today!

I wonder if the man (no name given) who stood before Jesus with a shriveled right hand was feeling the same kind of distraction. The text doesn’t tell us if he was born with this condition or if an accident caused the infirmity. What we do know is this wasn’t normal nor was this easy to live with. Not only would people stare (they always stare) but his work and living would be limited by what he could do with only one hand. This man’s “winter storm” was having a disability which limited living.

And along comes Jesus. It’s the Sabbath and Jesus has already proven he’s a renegade who is willing to break the rules on this most holy day. This particular Sabbath Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, which was his weekly custom. He was surrounded by listeners, friends, probably some family, his disciples and the Pharisees and teachers of the law who “were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus.” They wanted to see “if he would heal on the Sabbath.”

Healing was not common then nor is it common now by conventional means. These religious people were less impressed with the authority he had to heal and more concerned with him obeying what they understood as the letter of the law to not work on the Sabbath (Exodus 20.8-11). Jesus knew what they were thinking, he always knew. He had the man stand in front of the whole assembly, imagine the embarrassment, and asked the religious elite, “is it lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” The text then says “he looked around at them and then said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’’ He did so, and his hand was completely restored.”

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, the forty days to Easter until the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. Like the man whose hand was healed, we need a remarkable distraction. A distraction of a God come to earth, who died for the sins of the world and who rose again to new life. The storms around us have been too great to bear at times, so we need a new start to our day, our year, our lives. Jesus offers that start with a remarkable distraction of love. His love led him to heal on the sabbath and his love leads me to meet you where you are right now.

This day, I invite you to do what our pastors say to us during the Ash Wednesday services, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Repent and believe the Gospel.” Won’t you come to Jesus? Lean into the Lord who offers a miracle in the midst of the mayhem. God is with us. God is near. God loves you more than you could ever love yourself.

“O Lord God, you are faithful. When we are in crisis, the weather unpredictable or suffering from personal loss, you are closer than our own breath. You are hear. You are near. Living inside believers, moving throughout this created order. Causing us to love you, see you and call upon your name. Thank you Jesus for your gift of healing and the resurrection power to over come sin and death. I love you Lord and I praise you. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen