Serving Fearlessly and Compassionately
[Jesus] looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Mark 3:5
As He walked into the synagogue, Jesus immediately saw the man with a shriveled hand. He also saw the Pharisees defiantly waiting to see if He would heal the man on the Sabbath, against their tradition.
Jesus fearlessly told the man to stand in front of everyone in the synagogue where they could all be witnesses. Jesus didn’t even touch the man, but at His command, the hand was miraculously restored (Mark 3:1-5).
The people were amazed. Not only did Jesus teach with authority, but He also gave orders to demons and they obeyed Him. He spoke and miracles happened (Mark 1: 22, 27, 3:11).
But the Scribes and Pharisees weren’t impressed. They had power and status among the people. However, though they were the religious leaders, they couldn’t do what Jesus was doing. Concerned that Jesus’ increasing popularity would threaten their place of authority, they wanted to kill Him (3:2,6).
They refused to believe that Jesus’ power came from God because then they’d have to repent of their pride and greed. They allowed their hearts to harden and chose not to answer Jesus’ questions. They even accused him of being possessed by Satan, of having a demon (3:22-30).
Jesus was angry and grieved by the leaders’ responses. But redirecting His emotions, He gave them a chance to think about what they were doing, even implying that they were committing an unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit (3:28-30). Their hearts were filled with unbelief and unrepentance. Refusing to acknowledge God’s presence and power prevented them from receiving forgiveness.
How do we serve God? Is there evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit in what we say and do? Do we proceed in spite of opposition, even when we’re proven wrong? Do we get defensive and accuse others rather than repent? Do we deny ourselves and serve others with compassion even if our lives are in jeopardy?
Will we stretch out our necks fearlessly and say “stretch out your hand” to someone who needs Jesus’ healing touch?
According to Psalm 130:3-4, what’s another way to serve the Lord, and why should that be our response?
What was another characteristic of Jesus’ serving recorded in Mark 3:20, 31-35? Why do you think His natural family had difficulty? Have you ever been so busy serving the Lord you forgot about mealtimes and resting?
Look at a Bible map to see where the people came from to see Jesus and receive His healing touch (Mark 3:7-8): a large crowd from Galilee, from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, the regions across the Jordan, around Tyre and Sidon. What does this imply about their need?
For another devotion on Jesus as a servant, see God’s Servant Leader in Dig into Holidays.
Nancy J. Baker