I. The Story of the Withered Hand.
We are not told all the history involved so we don’t know if this man was born with this condition or if something happened in life to cause it. In any case his hand was described as withered- dried up; shriveled; wasted; useless. He could not use it at all; it was a hand in form but it had no life or force, no strength or power. It was completely useless to this man.
I can’t help but think that the word withered describes a situation where at one time the man had the full use of this hand; he could eat with it; write with it; work with it; use it to play games with his children; use it shake a friend’s hand; to wave, wipe his brow, comb his hair.
After all, Luke records that it was his Right Hand- clearly a reference to the fact that it had been his Primary hand- the one he used the most- the one most necessary to normal everyday life.
Somehow he had suffered either an accident or a disease that had caused his hand to wither- to dry up- to waste away- to shrivel and become useless.
What a difficult situation for a man to be in! Those things that were so common to everyday life now became a real challenge and he had to adjust to the problem by learning to use his left hand and trying to compensate for the withered hand.
This man happened to be in the synagogue that day when Jesus entered and began to teach. All of a sudden, without any prior warning, Jesus looked at the man with the withered hand and said to him, “Rise up and stand forth in the midst.” Imagine the man’s surprise at being singled out all of a sudden right in front of the whole congregation. Immediately he rose up and stepped out into the midst of the crowd in the synagogue. There he stood silently while Jesus took the opportunity to question the Pharisees and scribes concerning doing good on the Sabbath day. Then Jesus looked around the assembly. Mark said in our text that he looked “on them with anger being grieved for the hardness of their hearts,” then he turned to the man and cried out, “Stretch forth thy hand!”
The man reacted in Faith and as he made the effort to stretch out his withered hand, suddenly it was withered no longer. It was Made Whole, Restored, put back into its original condition.
What a great miracle of power- what a glorious healing- what a blessing for this man- he had regained the Full use of his right hand- all of his inconvenience had been removed- all of his restrictions were gone- he was no longer hindered by the lack of his right hand- he was back to Full Strength and Ability.
Thank God he can Restore the Withered Hand!
Thank God he can Restore the Withered Life too.
II. The Significance of the Withered Hand.
You already know that the Bible gives us stories and accounts for more than just a historical record. The things recorded in the Bible are for more than information or knowledge in our heads. They are recorded that we might learn Spiritual Lessons for our Lives today.
This withered hand symbolizes more than a physical need. It speaks to our Spiritual needs as well. We sometimes have areas of life that seemingly have become withered; not flourishing; weak.
The Greek word translated withered was (xer an ee o) and is used in a number of other instances than in this story.
- It was used to describe the plants that grew up in rocky ground without much soil for roots. When the Sun rose up in its full force; they were withered by its scorching heat.
-It was used by a boy’s father in describing what an evil spirit caused to happen to him. He pineth away- he withers; shrivels up; becomes limp and useless.
- It was used by Jesus in describing what happens to a branch that becomes disconnected from the Vine; it withers and dies.
SO that says to me that we may suffer this withering in three ways:
1) We may be Scorched by Life’s Troubles.
The troubles of life are likened by Jesus to the heat of the sun. When the sun rises in its strength, plants are in great danger. They cannot withstand such heat without a powerful root system bringing in a constant supply of water.
So the troubles of life often rise up in their full strength and scorch our faith until we wither.
I have known numbers of people who lived for God for years, but somewhere along the way the troubles of life piled up on them; their tragedies seemed to multiply; their distress mounted up; and in spite of their former relationship with God, they Withered, they Dried Up, they wasted away spiritually and became useless.
2) We may be Shaken by Satan’s Attacks.
Just as that young boy brought to Jesus would pine away or wither under the attack of the devil, we too may wither under his persistent pressure. The Devil Hates you and me. He wants us all to be lost; to be separated from God; to be living in worldliness, bitterness, sin, and rebellion against God and his Word. He will do everything in his power to Weaken you- Hinder you- Overcome you. He will work to Dry up your spiritual life; to cause you to shrivel up and waste away; to become useless to God and the Church.
3) We may suffer from a Separation in our Spiritual Relationship with the Lord.
He truly is the Vine! We are but branches. We have no Life in ourselves. Unless we stay connected with Jesus we will Dry Up, wither, waste away, and become useless spiritually.
You don’t have to commit a horrendous sin to wither spiritually. If you neglect your relationship with the Lord you will Wither. Where there is a Lack of Prayer; Lack of time in the Word of God; Lack of church attendance; Lack dedication and commitment; there will be a withering.
- Hand of Worship will Wither! No longer active in true worship- spirit and truth. Service after service- come dry & go away dry- others raise their hands your’s remain unmoved- others shed tears but your eyes are dry- others rejoice in God’s presence but you just watch- unmoved.
Hand of Fellowship will wither! Closeness with the people of God will fade- friendships will fail- fellowship will cease- comradery will vanish- Unity will be destroyed- Friction will set in- Instead of reaching out a helping hand to our brothers and sisters in the Lord- we will withdraw into our own shell of isolation.
Hand of Service will Wither! There are believers who no longer serve the Lord with their life, their effort, their energy. They Don’t want to Sing- don’t want to testify- don’t want to teach- don’t want to invite anyone to church- won’t participate in the activities of the church- won’t be a part of the outreach of the church- Dried up- withered- shriveled- useless.
What a Tragic condition! What a Terrible state to be in.
Need to be RESTORED- Made WHOLE.
Restored to Full Strength; Renewed to Life and Vitality; Returned to Usefulness.
Worship Restored; Fellowship Restored; Service Restored.
If you have been Scorched by Life’s troubles, you can be made whole.
If you have been Shaken by Satan’s attacks, you can be made whole.
If you have become Separated from the Lord, you can be made whole.