Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. 2 And they watched Jesus to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” 4 And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
A disfigured man is called out, and is asked to take his broken body with him toward Christ. And the man’s hand is not healed with a magic word or a spell, a man’s hand is restored by it’s reaching out to Christ. Is healed by its movement toward Christ.
Christ has made himself the center. The center of the synagogue, the center of God's people, the center of God's sabbath purpose. Everything in us and in this world, including our brokenness and pride, now seen and understood in its relation to Christ .Is it wrong to see Christ here as a burning flame, the burning heart of the world? The wounded drawn to its warmth, the proud scattered and exposed.
But it must also, at the heart of this flame, at the burning heart of God, the deep note of his grieving.
Christ grieved, not just for a broken world, but a sinful one. For the pharisees who couldn't understand. And sin here is not mistakes or broken laws it is an impenetrable, unseeing heart. Christ had met, and grieved, the unconsecrated heart of man. And the sinful world he would die for. At the heart of his obedience was a great pain and a great grieving over us.
Have we met the hardness of each other’s hearts? And met it, not with rage or retaliation, but with Christ’s own deep note of grieving?
To depend on Christ, I gather, is to cause yourself pain. And in some sense even more mysterious than that, it is to cause yourself His pain. To walk his own lonely road toward reconciliation, a Christian’s only way through and forward.
These two weeks I have grieved the hardness of heart I’ve seen in myself, in others. In friend and foe and mirror. But I have been given, this week, the consolation of the poor in spirit, those people I work with on the street, who have spoken, in the time and smile and observances, Christ’s own consolation to the those who follow him. As I swim through Beaver Falls on my bike, I feel unusually and tenderly noticed.
One man I know on the street gave me an odd look, and smiled.
“John,” he said. “Your hands are cold.”
“We need to make sure we get you some gloves. Your hands are cold.”