How do you react to situations where things don't go right or don't go your way? The end of this week's Bible text shows a pair of very different reactions:
Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus' enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man's hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, "Come and stand in front of everyone." Then he turned to his critics and asked, "Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?" But they wouldn't answer him. He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, "Hold out your hand." So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus. - Mark 3:1-6
Jesus asks the questions to the religious leaders and they choose not to answer Him. Why? Maybe they are stubborn. Maybe they are ashamed and He has shed light on the truth but are still unwilling to change their ways. In the midst of expressing His love, He feels two other powerful emotions as well:
1. Anger - God/Jesus has a righteous anger at sin. Sin is the great separator of God and Man.
2. Sadness - God/Jesus has a true sadness for the sinner. Here we see the separation that sin has caused. The religious leaders sin was following the letter of the law/tradition rather than the Author of the Law that was right in front of them.
Do these emotions stop Him from doing good? How does Jesus react to this anger and sadness? He brings healing to the man. He reacts to wrong with right. He overcomes evil with good (Romans 12:21). How many of us would be tempted to treat evil with evil...fight fire with fire. To glorify God, we mustn't fall into that trap. To experience the joy of following Jesus, we must follow this very example. Our reactions say so much about our actual motives and the actual condition of our heart.
The religious leaders had their own kind of reaction. They have denied Jesus and His authority. They have stuck to their guns and their traditions. Once Jesus heals the man (on the Sabbath), you would think that they would see that He must be 'The Lord of The Sabbath'. Unfortunately, they cannot see much of anything but red. They are blinded by rage, malice, shame...who knows what all emotions are flowing. God has come near to them and rather than coming near to God they make a plan to kill Him for breaking His own laws (their interpretations of it). Now that is the ultimate over-reaction! They choose to try to overcome good with evil. How terrible! Are you prone to over-react or to react out of improper motive or emotion? The outcomes are almost never good and carry consequences. They can even be working against God.
The Good News is that this was all part of the plan. Jesus was on a collision course with The Cross and these very reactions would ensure that He went that direction. God can use evil for His own purposes (read Genesis 50:20 and the story of Joseph for proof). This doesn't give us license to do evil but when evil is done to us we can at least look to see how God might redeem it. Jesus would endure great persecution from this group...all to express the complete love of God to You and to Me! Knowing that, have a great weekend!