There was a man with a withered hand. Jesus approached the man with the withered hand and asked him to extend it. In an instance…the withered hand was healed.
Fortunately or unfortunately depending on your purview, I think Jesus is a secondary character in this episode. The main character is the man with the withered hand. It is interesting that Jesus asked the man to extend his withered hand. I believe the gentleman probably kept the hand stuffed securely behind a cloak or something so that no one would see it…yet if he wanted to be healed then he had to extend it.
We all have our withered hands…those parts of us that we hide. Indeed, we hide behind cloaks of our own construction in hopes that no one will find out about the withered hand. We get so used to hiding and lying that we can’t remember what is truth about our self. Real healing can’t take place in hiding however…we must make ourselves vulnerable and extend the withered hand. Vulnerability is not safe…but it is the only action that leads to healing. Extend the withered hand.
Not too much later, Jesus talks about the divided house. I think there are many of us who live our lives in divided houses…we run from closet to closet to keep up the lie that we are somehow whole. We hide our withered hands in hopes that no one will notice. Unfortunately, when we live in divided houses things begin to break down and we forget who we told what to and where we even are. There is no healing in the divided house or the divided heart. There can only be healing if we have the courage to come out of the closets and extend the withered hand…the courage to be vulnerable and experience the healing of love in honest community.
Toward the end of Mark 3, there is a story about Jesus’ family calling to him and Jesus declaring that his disciples were actually his family. This story reminds me of when I find myself in the midst of important work and hear the phone ringing. I don’t answer because I don’t want to be distracted from my work. The proverbial phone was ringing and Jesus did not want to be distracted. Our churches are very distracted. It seems that most of what churches do these days is stay on the phone. There seems to be a need to hide the withered hand behind institutional layer upon institutional layer so that real community is something talked about but never accomplished. Institutional life is a distraction at times…and we must ask ourselves whether or not we or anyone else in our spaces have or are extending the withered hand. If we hide in closets and refuse to make ourselves vulnerable…we will find our selves decaying from the inside out…but if we choose to be honest…we will get to have the healing experience of honest community. Without the withered hands…a true experience of church or life is not possible. I pray that ours will always be a church exposed.
So on this day…I invite you to go expose that withered hand and be healed of all that might hold you back from living honestly in our world.