The Faith That Pleases God

As was the custom, on every Sabbath the local Jews had gathered at the synagogue for worship and to learn of God. This Sabbath was no exception. Everyone knew each other. They all recognized Yeshua as He walked in. They knew Him and His family. His reputation as a teacher was renowned. His insight was profound and amazing.

And whilst His behaviour was not rebellious, neither was it according to tradition. He had in fact distressed some synagogue and Sanhedrin officials. and so some Pharisees had come to watch Him to see whether they had reason to accuse Him.

"And he entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. And they watched him closely, whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. Then he said to the man who had the withered hand, 'Step forward.'

"And he said to them, 'Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?' But they kept silent. So when he had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, he said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.'

"And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him." (Mark 3:1-6)

Everyone had seen what happened. They all knew the man Yeshua, Jesus. They all knew the man whose hand was withered. Everyone had watched with anticipation. Tension rose. Would Yeshua heal? Was it lawful?

When He had turned to the Pharisees and asked, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill it?" they had not answered. Indeed, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath, and it is good to save life on the Sabbath. But Yeshua was going to go one step further.

He had looked at the man and instructed him to stretch out his hand. The man stretched out his hand, and immediately it was fully restored, as whole as the other. This was more than healing. This was more than a good deed, more than saving life, which anyone can do. It was much more!

Yeshua spoke the Word, and the man's hand was made whole. He created life. He spoke and it was so. He spoke the Word and life was given. This was a demonstration of Yeshua's power and authority. The miracle gave witness to whom He was. The man's withered hand was utterly useless; it was as though it were dead.

But that which was dead came to life when Yeshua spoke the Word. Just as God spoke in the beginning and it was so, also Yeshua, the Son of God spoke and it was so. Yeshua said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, that the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do; for whatever he does, the Son also does in like manner." (John 5:19)

By this miracle Yeshua was demonstrating that He was God. Indeed He was God in the flesh– Immanuel–God with us! Exactly as the prophet Isaiah foretold. (Isaiah 7:14)

Furthermore, the fact that it was the man's hand that was given life cannot be overlooked. The hand is the means through which a man demonstrates his strength, his skill and his authority. It is indicative of one's independence and the ability to provide for one's needs.

And the right hand in Scripture is indicative of power and authority. The Lord brought His people out of bondage from the land of Egypt by an outstretched arm and hand, and the pursuing Egyptians felt the power of God's right hand. "You stretched out your right hand; the earth swallowed them." (Exodus 15:12)

Significantly it was the right hand of the man that was withered (Luke 6:6), and so when Yeshua spoke life into it, He was giving further witness to His authority, and confirming that He was indeed the long-awaited Messiah, the Hope of Israel.

Yeshua came from God the Father that those who believed in Him would know the Father, and worship Him in spirit and in truth. He spoke only what the Father told Him, and He worked only that which His Father showed Him.

Yeshua challenged the Pharisees: "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of myself, but he sent me." (John 8:42) Yeshua came that we might have life, and those who have faith in Him experience life to the full.

Yeshua said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:1-12)

These are not the words of a rebel. These are not the words of a law breaker. These are the words of God. Those who are godly and live to please God will not shy away from them but will hold them as precious. And those who seek after righteousness and submit to His kingship in their lives will listen and respond appropriately.

Yeshua was not about revolution. He came to call His people to repentance. He came not to break the law, but to fulfil the law. He came not to deceive, but to testify to the truth. Yeshua came not to begin an earthly kingdom that would eventually overthrow the other kingdoms of this world. He came to build the kingdom of heaven, which is not built of stones, nor is it the work of men's hands.

Yeshua came preaching, teaching and demonstrating righteousness. He is the way to the Father, as He said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

There were those who saw the miracle, and still they did not believe. They watched Yeshua to make certain that He did not break the law. He didn't. They heard the word He spoke. They saw what happened when He spoke. They knew the man with a withered hand. They saw him stretch out his withered hand. They saw it restored whole. And still they did not believe.

How could they see and not believe? How could they hear and not believe? The record testifies that their hearts were hardened. The miracle was so simple, and yet so mighty. Tragically, they chose to harden their hearts.

They didn't want to believe, because they knew that they would have to respond accordingly if they did. They thought they would be going against their learned teachers and leaders if they believed. It contradicted their traditions. How could they reject their traditions?! They would be ridiculed and reviled by their peers.

They would be rejected by family and friends they thought. "But blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Tradition bound their hearts to the expectations of men. The culture at the time nurtured misconceptions of who the Messiah would be and how He would arrive. Yeshua met none of their expectations or perceptions.

Tradition had withered their hearts and robbed them of their faith. Their hearts no longer had the faith that pleases God. Their hearts had withered just like the man's right hand. But even as the man stretched forth his hand, so if we stretch forth our hearts to believe in Yeshua, faith will reignite our heart and it will be as life from the dead.

Let us not to be bound by tradition, but choose life. Let us not rob our hearts of the riches of faith. "Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion." (Letter to the Hebrews 3:15) We will then enjoy the freedom and fruits of the faith that pleases God, taste of the Lord's goodness, and know that He is a rewarder of those who believe in Him.