He Did It Anyway
Jesus said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” And when he held it out, his hand was healed. Immediately, the Pharisees, along with the Herodians, went out and discussed plans on how they could put Jesus to death.
Back in the 1950s, when we lived in Kalkaska, Michigan, my dad would travel to work in a nearby town. Mrs. McCurdy, who worked in the same building, would park her big Buick in a No Parking zone.
No one seemed to mind Mrs. McCurdy’s bad habit. But, one day, my dad decided to play a joke on her. He went to a police officer he knew and asked if he would give a ticket to Mrs. McCurdy. The officer thought this was a delightful idea, and gave dad a blank parking ticket.
Dad filled it out and put it on Mrs. McCurdy’s windshield. The police officer then turned the joke on dad by saying, “And now I’m arresting you for impersonating a police officer!”
The judge was duly informed of the joke on Mrs. McCurdy. When she found the ticket she immediately reported to the judge. The judge, with a twinkle in his eye, said, “I find you guilty. Your sentence is to kiss the judge every morning before you go to work.” Mrs. McCurdy said, “I’d rather go to jail!”
How times have changed. There was a day when people were free to laugh and pull harmless pranks, and the stories are still being told.
Today, the police officer and my dad would be smacked with million dollar lawsuits. The judge would be arrested and charged with sexual harassment, and the police department would be under investigation for refusing to ticket a woman who daily parked in a prohibited zone.
Don’t get me wrong: rogue cops and sexual harassment are real offenses that must be firmly dealt with. But we know that no one would dare play a harmless joke like this in our day. Even though this joke brought great mirth to my dad, the police officer, the judge, and Mrs. McCurdy, we would never dream of doing the same thing today because we’re terrified we would be punished by lawsuits.
Jesus lived in a legalistic society. Penalties were often severe for minor infractions of the law. What could be more compassionate than to find a man in church with a deformed hand and to heal him? But, because Jesus’ miracle was considered “work”, and because work was forbidden on the Sabbath, the gospel of Mark says the religious leaders joined forces with the politicians to find a way to put Jesus to death.
Jesus’ healing was not simply an act of compassion; it was an act of courage.
Just as Jesus lived in a legalistic society, so do we. We know that the more we become involved in helping others, the more we risk being severely punished in the form of lawsuits. A generation ago, all you needed to help others was a caring heart. Today, you also need courage.
I’m not going to tell you what you should do. The threat of lawsuits is real. But we do need to understand that, sometimes, Christ-like love is compassion combined with courage.
Jesus knew the danger of healing a man on the Sabbath day.