“Stretch out your hand.”

 Matthew 12:13


      Jesus entered the synagogue and found there a man with a withered hand. Is this a picture of many church members today? They sit in church, well dressed, performing the ritual, speaking the name of Christ, but their hands are withered, ineffective.


      It seems clear from the Greek text that this man’s hand had become withered. It had not always been thus. Once he was a strong man. Luke tells us that it was his right hand; tradition says he was a mason. Now his hand was paralyzed, useless.


      The hand, in Scripture, often symbolizes spiritual truth. Jesus refers to a man who puts his hand to the plow and looks back (Luke 9:62). The hand of service can become a withered hand. An individual, once keen for the kingdom of God and winning others to discipleship can lose his desire to serve. Enthusiasm can die out in his heart.  Jesus says to that person, “Stretch forth your hand.”


      Paul speaks about people “lifting holy hands” in prayer (1 Tim. 2:8). The hand of prayer may become withered. The individual becomes irregular, undisciplined in daily devotions. Vitality has seeped out of prayer life. Consequently, defeat and discouragement abound.  Jesus says to this person, “Stretch forth your hand.”


      In Galatians 2:9 Paul speaks about “the right hand of fellowship.” This hand may also become a withered hand. Once it was a firm, strong, loving hand, extended in confidence, concern, and communion. Now it is withdrawn, paralyzed. Fellowship with other Christians is broken. Again, Jesus says, “Stretch forth your hand.”


      So much depended on the mental viewpoint of the man who stood before Jesus in the synagogue. If he looked at the hand, healing seemed impossible. If he looked into the face of Christ, everything seemed possible. No matter how withered your hand has become, Christ wants to heal it—whether it be the useless hand of service, the paralyzed hand of prayer, or the withered hand of fellowship.  “Stretch forth your hand!”



Thought for the day: The healed hand becomes a helping hand.


                                                                       J.T. Seamands