Bible Reading: Mark 3:1-21
Jesus was at a Synagogue. There, He saw a man with a withered hand. The religious leaders of the Jews had sent a group to keep an eye on Him…to catch Him breaking their laws. It is important to remember that we are talking about the laws that they had made up…not the Law of God…though, they saw their laws as an extension of sorts of God’s Law. In their thinking, if you break their laws, then you are breaking God’s Law. The problem that day was that they were more concerned about keeping their laws…than about helping the man. They had their priorities out of order. And, as I am fond of saying: They were too religious for God. This angered Jesus.
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
It was 11:42pm (almost midnight), December 29, 1972. Eastern Airline Flight 401 from New York’s JFK Airport was making an approach to land at Miami International Airport, in Miami, Florida. As they were making the approach, the Pilot and Co-Pilot noticed that a light that indicated that the landing gear was correctly lowered had not come on. They had pressed the button to lower the landing gear…but the light had not come on. So, they were worried that the gear may not have gone down, properly. While the Flight Engineer went into the bottom of the plane to see if he could visually determine if the gear was down, or not…the Pilot and Co-Pilot continued to try to fix the light, thinking that it was malfunctioning. Actually, what they didn’t know, was that it was burned out. With all of their attention fixed on the light and the landing gear…the crew forgot the most important rule of flying…keep the plane in the air! Without their realizing it…the plane had been slowly and gradually losing altitude. Suddenly, the plane crashed into the swampy Everglades…west of Miami. 2 of the 10 flight attendants, and 96 of the 163 passengers died, while 75 passengers and crew survived. The plane crashed, and the people died for one reason…they forgot to keep the main thing, the main thing. They forgot to fly the plane.
The captain had 29,700 hours of flying time. The First Officer had 5,800 hours of flying experience. The Second Officer had 15,700 hours of flying experience. Add that up: 51,200 hours of flight time…that equals 2,133 days…or, 305 weeks…or, almost 6 years. That’s a lot of time. That’s a lot of experience. And yet, somehow, this experienced crew forgot to do the single most important thing that the crew had to do…keep the main thing the main thing…fly the plane.
Jesus loved people. That was His main thing. To express His love to His Father…by loving people…was His main thing. And when He saw someone who claimed to love God…but they were not loving people…it upset Him…bad!
One Sabbath day (the Jewish people worshipped on Saturday), Jesus was in the Synagogue (that is the place where the Jewish people went to worship when they were not in Jerusalem at the Temple). There was a man there whose hand was “withered” up. The same word “withered” is used of plants that have dried up and wilted because they didn’t get any water. His hand was useless.
There was a group of people there, sent by the Jewish leaders, who were trying to catch Jesus breaking the law (the laws that they had made…not the Law that God had made). If they could prove that He was breaking their law they could take Him to court and have Him convicted and punished. They had several laws that were very, very strict about what could and could not be done on the Sabbath. So, they thought this would be a good time to watch Jesus. They had heard that He had performed miracles on the Sabbath, before. And now, they were hoping to catch Him doing it, again. Jesus knew that they were there…and He knew why they were there.
Jesus looked at the man and His heart was touched with compassion by his need. Then He looked at the men from the Jewish leaders. He asked them, “Is it against your law to do good for someone…because if you don’t, something bad will happen to them? Or, is against your law to save someone’s life…because if you don’t, they will die?” They just sat there stone-faced, saying nothing. The Bible says that this made Jesus “angry”. Have you ever thought about Jesus being “angry”? Think about it: He loved a man who stole money from others (Matthew the tax collector), He forgave a woman who was immoral, He accepted the very man (Judas) who He knew would one day betray Him. Usually we talk about Him being loving, and kind, and compassionate, and caring. But “angry”? That’s not a word that you often associate with Jesus. You would have to do something really, really bad to make Jesus “angry”. What did these men do to make Jesus “angry”? They had no compassion for the man with the withered hand. They were more concerned about their “laws”…than about his needs. They had forgotten to keep the main thing the main thing. They had forgotten to fly the plane. They had forgotten to love the people.
It saddens my heart to admit this…but sometimes, we can forget to keep the main thing the main thing. We can become so caught up in other stuff…good stuff, important stuff…but other stuff, none-the-less…that we forget to keep the main thing the main thing. We forget to love people. Think about your life. What is the main thing? Is it to please your parents? Is it to make an “A” in a class in school? Is it to be a good athlete? There is nothing wrong with any of those things. They just cannot be the main thing in your life. The main thing should be to love people…because when you love people…you are loving God. Keep the main thing the main thing. Remember…fly the plane!
Love you more than bunches and bunches,