Go to Luke 6:6-10 and check out this guy!He sat in church with Jesus, the Messiah, the One who is being broadly proclaimed by all. Everyone was talking about this Man! (4:37) Very recently, He had healed a leper, cast out demons, and brought a woman back from near death. Do you think that this guy was sitting in the same worship service with Jesus and was unaware of the Celebrity in the room? Everywhere Jesus went crowds of sick people surrounded him, asking for healing --- and getting it! Entire communities bring their sick for His touch (Mk. 6:56) --- and they were healed. Yet scripture does not hint that this guy asked for the restoration of his hand.
Would you have tried to sit near the Miracle Worker?
Wouldn't you have taken the opportunity, any opportunity, to whisper a plea to this Healer? I think many of us would've made an appeal, maybe even have waved the withered hand in the air in hopes of attracting the attention of the Famous One sitting nearby.
Why did this guy NOT ask for healing?
Was it pride mixed with a big glop of shame? Maybe this guy was a cynic, a skeptic from way back. Maybe he was attending synagogue that day to take the measure of this Miracle Worker for himself. Or did he secretly plan to ask for healing after the service?
From reading the account of Luke, I think we can be pretty certain that the tension in the room that day was, ummm - THICK. The religious crowd was looking for some Sabbath Sin they could add to their pile of fabrications against Jesus --- something really big. I'll bet everyone felt the intensity of the undercurrent of hate in the room - maybe this guy was laying low for that very reason. Was he afraid to have his name linked to Someone who was so despised by the establishment?
This poor guy!
His need was great - any of us who have dealt with a long term physical problem know how longed for healing is. But it seems so unattainable! You get used to the predicament, though, after living with it for years, and you learn to deal. But always in the deep part of your heart, you're wishing. Craving wholeness. Longing for freedom! Even if this guy was a skeptic, a sneering and scoffing skeptic, somewhere in his heart that day, a tiny longing, a small hope had to be flickering!
Jesus initiates the healing by calling this guy out - "Come and stand here."
And this guy obeyed! I can only imagine how he must've felt to have Jesus call him out to come forward. Have you ever been in a church service where the preacher calls someone forward? Yeah - no one is sleepy at that point since that becomes a red alert situation. And have you ever seen anyone decline? I haven't. This guy made a choice for obedience - not knowing what the heck would happen next, he moved out of his anonymity, and left his comfortable seat.
"And after looking around at them all He said to him, "Stretch out your hand."
This guy could've let all those weights mentioned before ruin his chance for restoration. The fear, shame, pride and doubt could've caused him to decline, placing his hand behind his back instead of stretching it out for all in the gathering to view. But for the second time, he obeyed and stretched out his hand. He threw all aside, and chose obedience.
"And he did so, and his hand was restored."
This guy gets a new hand as an object lesson for the benefit of the religious axe-grinders! His healing, was not sought or begged for!
This passage has always been close to my heart.
In dealing with chronic illness over many years, I often found myself identifying, at different points, with several of the scriptural characters who approached the Lord for healing. Some of them begging, a few filled with faith, others reasoning and bargaining. But this guy - this guy is the one that is closest to my heart because the restoration that this guy received had nothing to do with the way he asked, the tone he used, or the fervor of his plea- things I often found myself being distracted with. For this guy, none of that mattered at all. Jesus saw him, knew him, and called him. All he had to do was respond in obedience.
Of course that required the laying down of all those other things.
His obedience required the abandonment of potentially greater pride, heavier shame, more paralyzing fear, darker unbelief (Heb. 12:1). This guy sets the example that obeying Jesus is a better path, one to restoration, than the clutching and keeping of sin, leading to ... a still withered hand.
"Come and stand here . . . Stretch out your hand."
I want to live my entire life like this guy in that moment.