Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all ~ Matthew 12:13-15
In Matthew 12 we read the record of Jesus’ scandalous healing of a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. It is another of Jesus’ miraculous signs, and predictably, the Pharisees react to this by conspiring to destroy Jesus. As we continue to read, however, we see a crowd of people who have a very different reaction to Jesus’ ministry to the man with the withered hand. They followed him.
Now, I assume that of the “many,” some had obvious physical ailments, but I would guess that not all of them did, and yet we are told “he healed them all.” What a simple and yet profound description of the life of a disciple of Jesus. A disciple is one who follows because he or she needs the healing of Jesus. It’s pretty simple, and yet so many miss it. We try to make it so much more complicated than it needs to be.
I will say, however, it may be simple, but it’s not easy. As Bishop Allison reminded us on Sunday last as he quoted St. Augustine, “Oh man, what is thy malady? Pride. And what is the remedy? Behold the humble Lord.” The pride of man is that malady that needs healing. How interesting that in these short verses we see a group whose pride has actually caused them to turn away from, and more than that, seek the destruction of the one who has the healing in his hands. The man with the withered hand swallowed his pride and beheld the humble Lord as he stretched out the unsightly limb. All those in the “many” likewise dropped their own agendas and recognized their sickness and followed the humble Lord. They were all suffering the malady and they were all healed.
Humble Lord, please open my eyes to see the malady I suffer, the malady of pride and self-centeredness, and grant me the will to follow you. Give me grace to stretch out that which is withered by my pride, my heart, mind, and soul, and heal me. Amen.