Three Kinds of Men
On another Sabbath, Jesus entered a synagogue to teach. A man was there whose right hand was withered. The legal experts and the Pharisees were watching him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. They were looking for a reason to bring charges against him. Jesus knew their thoughts, so he said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” He got up and stood there. Jesus said to the legal experts and Pharisees, “Here’s a question for you: Is it legal on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” Looking around at them all, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he did and his hand was made healthy. They were furious and began talking with each other about what to do to Jesus. (Luke 6:6-11)
Whenever we are reading the Bible, our challenge is to look for ourselves on the pages of the book. Where or to whom am I able to identify? If we are able to do this, then we are provided with inspired guidance applicable to our life today. In the story, we see a snapshot of three different kinds, or types of men. First there is Jesus, who encounters the second kind of man with the deformed hand and finally the religious men who are livid with Jesus for breaking the Sabbath. The ideas I am typing here are coming from a book written by Richard Rohr and cited at the bottom. I am providing an overview and I encourage you to look at the original source for a more complete picture.
First, let’s take a look at the man with the withered hand. He is the passive man. While your heart goes out to him for the fact of his handicap, you cannot help but take note of how he seems to be disengaged from life. He shows no initiative or internal motivation, like many men, as Rohr says, he has “no interior juice or joy.” He is just kind of there in the story waiting to be told what to do and then submissively follows instructions. I am not at all suggesting that we should resist anything Jesus asks or tells us to do. The man in the story did not seek to be healed, does not thank Jesus when he is healed nor inquire as to what he ought to do now that he has been empowered. He is, it seems, simply going through the motions of a life which is exceedingly less than abundant.
Next, notice the religious men who can best be described as negative and angry. These men are focused on protecting their own power and position and really do not give a damn about the weak or the wounded. They feel threatened when Jesus encroaches on their turf and are looking to accuse and discredit. They have no answer when questioned by Jesus. Under the guise of religion, these men are interested in keeping the status-quo and will not tolerate anyone who does not fit neatly into their preconceived ideas. I will allow you to connect your own dots as to what kind of men fit into this category from our world. Suffice to say that wherever we find group-think attempting to keep everyone and everything in its proper place, we may be seeing this kind of man.
The third kind of man in the story, is of course, Jesus. He enters the story and does the right thing in the face of opposition without explanation or apology. As Jesus tells us elsewhere (John 4:31-34; John 5:19-20) he simply follows the instructions he gets from his Father and seeks to do His will. He doesn’t humiliate the passive man nor does he berate the negative men, he calmly does God’s will and then moves on. He is completely comfortable addressing either kind of man. He enters into the story and assertively acts. The secret to Jesus’ capacity to live life in this way is revealed in the passage immediately following the one cited above (Luke 6:12-19) and will be the subject of our next entry.
*From Wild Man to Wise Man by Richard Rohr, St. Anthony Messenger Press, Cincinnati Ohio, 2005 (pp. 87-91)