Monday, September 11, 2023

Standing up for others

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

History records many who stood up for a cause or a people, and in so doing were prepared to face physical suffering, or to be reproached or put to shame.

One day, Jesus arrived in the synagogue, where people used to gather to hear the Bible read, and taught. Amongst the company was a man who had a withered, deformed hand. As Jesus entered, a company of religious folk watched to see whether He would heal this man on the Sabbath day, which they considered to be a breach of the law. They were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, and so bring His work, and His following to an end.
The Lord Jesus was grieved. He had recently taught that the law of the Sabbath was for mankind’s good, but the Pharisees had added their own regulations and traditions to the law, making it a real burden. Sadly, their hearts were hardened against God’s word, and had no compassion for the man before them and His condition. Would their pattern of rites and rules benefit him in any way? Not a jot! But while cold religion stood by, the Lord Jesus was going to make a difference.

Even though Jesus knew that they were out to destroy Him, for the good of the man, He was prepared to face their rejection. Unashamedly, Jesus asked the man to step forward and stretch out his hand. How embarrassing, for him to become the centre of attention in this way! Nevertheless, Jesus' ability to heal was without question, having demonstrated it on numerous occasions already.

Having confidence in the Lord’s power, he stepped forward, and as He reached out the hand that until now had been useless to him, nerves and ligaments responded. He felt the limb’s muscles gaining strength and discovered that it had been fully cured! I am sure that the man was grateful that the Lord Jesus had been prepared to endure reproach for his sake. How glad he must have been too, that he was prepared to obey the Lord, and to be associated with Him in this way.

The Lord Jesus’ ability to transform lives remains without question. Many occasions are recorded in the Bible of people who placed their trust in Him and whose lives were turned around, when others had been unable to help. Many living examples testify to His ability to change lives even today. For our good, He was willing to face a hostile crowd that led Him away to be crucified. Although He had done no wrong, He was prepared to be treated like a criminal and to face the judgement of God for the sins of the world.

Are we grateful that He was ready to suffer, and to die for our sake? Are we prepared to personally step forward and own that He suffered for our sin? Are we prepared to be publicly associated with Him through being baptized? By this Biblical practice, Christians identify themselves with His death by going under the water, and identify with His resurrection life in rising back up from it. Are we prepared to be associated with His Name before friends, family, colleagues and other acquaintances?

Those who accept that the judgement He faced was that which we deserved are made spiritually ‘whole’. In the same way as the man’s hand was restored, we too will be enabled to serve our Lord using the ability that He has given to us.

The old hymn says:

I'm not ashamed to own my Lord, or to defend his cause,
Maintain the honour of his Word, the glory of his cross.

Can you?

Written by Tom Merriman for Messages with Meaning (23/08/21) & Your542Day 


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