Grace For Your Day April 22

True Christianity has never been popular because it has always been persecuted in one form or another. Islam has rarely been persecuted in history except for a few exceptions. Neither has Buddhism or Hinduism. However, the true faith has because it is part of the kingdom of light instead of the kingdom of darkness which makes it a target of Satan’s attacks.

Therefore, we should not be surprised when the world ridicules us. It should not come as a shock when they mock us or deride us or harass us because they did it to Jesus as can be seen in the following story. Mark 3:1-6 tells us that:

He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!”

 And He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.
The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.

The interesting thing about this passage is the setting of it because it revolved around a miracle. Jesus healed a man with a “withered” hand. The term “withered” implies that the man’s hand had shrivelled up to the point that he could not use it anymore.

Yet Jesus healed Him! He told him to come to the front of the room and the Lord caused the infirmity to vanish as new cells, muscles, bones, tissue, joints, and nerve endings grew in order to replace the previous ones. The restoration was instantaneous and it makes you wonder: How did the leaders respond to this? Verse 6 says that they began to conspire against Him. The Pharisees and Herodians got together in order to find a way to kill Jesus.

Why? Because Jesus embarrassed them. They did that because they had wrong ideas about the Sabbath (verse 2) and Jesus pointed it out to them with this miracle which caused them to resent Him and plot His demise. Hypocrites typically responded that way to Jesus in the Bible. Any time you see Him encounter men like this, it was not a pretty picture. Resentment usually followed which culminated in some form of scheming against Him which is what we are going to talk about this week at Grace Fellowship Church.

This Sunday, we are going to look at “The Story of the Man with a Withered Hand” in order to see where Jesus’ persecution begins in the Gospel of Mark. It does not begin with tax collectors or sinners. It begins with the religious leaders of the day in order to demonstrate that that is where most of our trouble will come from too in the church.

According to a survey from Lifeway Chrisitan Resources several years ago, 360 million Christians per year are persecuted or deprived of something as a result of their testimony. Some of it is brought on by the secular authorities but most of it is not. It is carried out by the religious ones just like you see right here. However, those Christians endure it every year because they know that their Savior did a similar thing on His way to the cross. Jesus met tremendous spiritual opposition and overcame it in order to demonstrate that we can too through His power. As John 15:20 says, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” However, Matthew 24:13 also says, “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” And we can endure because of the work of Christ.

Please join us as we talk about that this Sunday morning. The service will begin at 9:30 and the sermon will be recorded and posted on our You Tube Channel for all those who cannot make it in person. – Jeremy Cagle