In Mark chapter 3, Jesus meets two sets of people.
At the synagogue Jesus met a man with a withered hand. The Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him.
One was a man with an inborn disability and the other was a group of people who took on the attitude of self-righteousness. The disabled man was aware of his weakness and in need of healing. He needed Christ. The Pharisees were so blinded by their own interpretation, ideas and understanding of God that they not only failed to see their own disability but they also couldn’t see God at work.
Jesus was among them with one goal, i.e. to save them. The truth, the way and the life, He offered was available to all. He tried to communicate with the Pharisees in a way they could understand. But they refused to let go of their notions, they refused to be vulnerable to the working of the Spirit of God. When Jesus tried to show them the truth about God, His goodness and His love, they hardened their hearts. They didn’t respond.
But the disabled man, whose weakness was ever apparent to him, stepped forward and stretched out his weak hand before the Messiah.
“And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.” 4 Then 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. 5 And 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.” Mark 3:5
Both sets of people had an encounter with God that day at the synagogue. But while one went away healed and whole, the others went away seeking death. The one who was ready to behold the grace, love, and goodness of God walked away transformed. The others turned away incensed.
In 2 Corinthians 3, Apostle Paul addresses the problem of hardened hearts. Many Christians still focused on impressing God with their version of honouring the Sabbath and following letter of the law (Modern day whitewashed tombs of religious mind-sets. Mathew 23:27).
He talks of a departure from the passing glory of the old covenant given to Moses and the arrival of the unending glory that we experience in the new covenant in Christ.
“Our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” 2 Corinthians 3:6.
Paul continues to say that “Their minds were hardened; to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart.”
Many of us still read the Old Testament and think that God will strike us down for our sins, completely forgetting that Christ was already struck down in our place. There is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ. We don’t need to impress God with perfect records of Sabbath keeping. If you are struggling with the veil that prevents you from truly seeing God as good and loving and gracious, you still have hope, for the bible says in 2 Corinthians 3: 16,
“ but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”
If your experience with God makes you feel restricted and hemmed in or leads you to fear, it’s time to check the state of your heart. Because with God you find liberty, not more chains.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Corinthians 3: 17.”
2 Corinthians 3 ends with a promise of transformation. ”But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
We get our healing when we are ready to turn to him for help with our weakness and disability. It’s our choice if we get our transformation or if we walk away incensed at the message of Christ.