“Then Jesus went over to their synagogue, where he noticed a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees asked Jesus, ‘Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath?’ (They were hoping he would say yes, so they could bring charges against him.) And he answered, ‘If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course, you would. And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.’ Then he said to the man, ‘Hold out your hand.’ So, the man held out his hand, and it was restored, just like the other one! Then the Pharisees called a meeting to plot how to kill Jesus.” Matthew 12:9-14 NLT
As a young Christian, I always felt like the word hypocrite was overused. I felt like some church people used the word to throw shade on other Christians they felt weren’t living right. Others outside of faith sometimes used it as a blanket statement about church people in general. These outsiders felt that some Christians were judgmental yet not living any differently than those they judged. Ultimately, hypocrite is a word that I, personally, just have not used much. However, in referencing the text above, I find it to be a good example of the word hypocrite. Merriam-Webster defines a hypocrite as: “a person who puts on a false appearance of moral excellence or religion; a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.”
While there are obviously people who put on a false appearance of morality, it’s the second definition that most Christians should be concerned with. Many people like to throw the hypocrite word around as it pertains to others, but hypocrisy is very personal. We must all make sure that we are living up to our stated beliefs and to the beliefs written for us in The Holy Bible. In the Bible, we are told that our greatest command is to love God and others. That being the case, we need to be sure to follow Jesus’ example of what real love looks like and not just have a pretense of love.
Jesus noticed the man with the deformed hand. In other words, Jesus noticed the person that others failed to see. People with true needs are sometimes overlooked because of selfish agendas. Instead of the Pharisees caring about the man and his condition, they were focused on how they could trap Jesus into breaking a religious law. Putting on a persona of spirituality while being more concerned about religious laws than people in need is classic hypocrisy. Jesus so graciously ministered to the man in need as well as took time to teach those who didn’t realize they had a need. Our God is so amazing!! Truth be told, I believe that the Pharisees had a greater need than the man with the deformed hand.
There are so many other things that can be pulled out of these verses. Here are a few:
- Jesus went to church (synagogue)
- A man with a deformity also went to church.
- The Pharisees who were running the church were more concerned about the laws about the sabbath than they were of the man in need of healing.
- The spirit of jealousy operating in the Pharisees was so determined to find something to accuse Jesus of that it kept them from focusing on those with true ministry needs.
- Even though Jesus saw their wrong spirit, He still used it as a teaching moment. He tried to get them to see that they would be attentive and help an animal in distress, and a person is much more valuable than an animal.
- After Jesus tried to help them see the error of their ways, he then healed the man with the deformed hand.
This text clearly shows Jesus’ sensitivity to a person who had been suffering from a physical deformity. A church is a place where people with needs should be able to get help, encouragement, and a whole lot of love. We sometimes, like the Pharisees, miss the point of God’s great love and care for people.
We cannot be like the Pharisees. The Pharisees should have celebrated and rejoiced with the one who received healing. Instead, they insensitively dismissed the healing and were unconcerned with the fact this man no longer had to deal with the limitations of his deformity. What kind of spiritual state were they in that they didn’t rejoice with one who received such a great miracle?
So many people fight with all kinds of struggles every day. As Christ followers, we must reject negative and judgmental thoughts and look for opportunities to encourage others. Consider the following:
- A young mother may worry that she may not know how to properly care for her children, she just needs a bit of encouragement, not criticism.
- A new employee who is concerned about learning things properly really needs a coworker’s encouragement not negative comments.
- Some older people may feel like their best days are behind them and that they are no longer useful. It would mean a lot to take time to let them know that they are important, valuable, and loved.
These are just a few examples, but there are so many ways to encourage others.
There’s a lot going on in the world and all of us could focus on something negative if we wanted. If we say that we are Christ followers, then we should truly follow His example. He ministered healing to someone in need all while graciously educating religious hypocrites. Let God use you to encourage and bless others. Don’t worry so much that someone else may be a hypocrite, just make sure that word doesn’t describe you.
God bless you!