Stubbornness and faith: the man with the withered hand


At the height of his popularity, but when the Pharisees were beginning to view him with suspicion, one Sabbath Jesus entered a synagogue, by definition a Pharisee stronghold. Not that it was unusual for him to attend synagogue services; he probably attended somewhere every Sabbath of his life. But on the occasion Mark describes, a man with a withered hand was there.

All the Pharisees looked Jesus and the man with the withered hand, and what they saw was not so much a man in need as a reputed law breaker in their synagogue. Would Jesus have the audacity to heal the man on the Sabbath?Read the rest

The violence of Jesus: cleansing the temple

We probably all have our favorite images of Jesus. In a well-known scene from Talladega Nights, Ricky Bobby preferred to pray to the Baby Jesus. Others of us might be drawn to the healer, the teacher, the man who loved children. I suppose all of the favorite thoughts come under the heading “gentle Jesus, meek and mild.” So what about the violent man who upset tables and drove the money changers out of the temple?

It is one of the few incidents in his life mentioned in all four gospels: Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-17, Luke 19:45-46, John 2:13-22. According to the synoptics,  Jesus erupted after his triumphal entry.… Read the rest

The wrath of Jesus

Christ Preaching at Capernaum

Christ Preaching at Capernaum

“And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths I the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day.” — Matthew 11:23 (NIV)

Christians today like to think of Jesus as loving, kind, gentle, and accepting. He is certainly all of that. The thought of Jesus getting angry or rejecting anyone bothers us. The Greek for “the depths” is Hades, or hell. That makes us very uncomfortable. Let us not make the mistake of ignoring Jesus’ wrath

Early in his ministry Jesus moved from Nazareth to Capernaum.… Read the rest