Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. Mark 3, verses 3-4.
Gutless cowardice makes me so stinkin mad. It infuriates me because, to be honest, I’ve been a gutless coward too many times in my life. I can’t begin to tell you about all the times I stood silent – like the Pharisees – when I should have spoken up. Or all the times I was bullied in school and did nothing to stop it. I can’t even remember how many times I used to be scared of things that really shouldn’t scare us; things like the dark, or confrontation, rejection, telling the truth, my faults and sins, deadlines, or even getting caught in a traffic jam. I look back on those times and see myself has having been so much less than I knew I should have been and it makes me feel ashamed. Ashamed and yet so amazed even more that Jesus wants me just the way I am, gutless cowardice and all. There’s nothing I could have done, or could do now, to change that, or earn it, or make myself worthy of it. It’s that agape love He has to which we all aspire but from which we remove ourselves so woefully far.
So it makes me mad to read about this story for the umpteenth time, about how the Pharisees were such damned gutless cowards when they were confronted by the Son of Man. Here they are in person with Jesus Christ, the one whose coming has been foretold since Eden, and they’re looking for a way to trap Him in His words. Yet when He does something confrontational yet loving (like healing someone with a physical deformity), do they speak up? Do they walk the walk? You know the answer.
Tell me: would we be any different? I’ve already confessed my sometime-cowardice. I pray it would never return but, to tell you the truth, I don’t always know. How about you? What are you hiding from? What bad things have you done, or are going on in your life, or are going on around you, that you refuse to stand up and face? Are you walking the coward’s path in some way?
I bet you are. Not to insult you; please understand, I respect you for who you are. So it’s in friendship and even admiration for you that I tell you I bet there are things you’re afraid of, things that make you cower in pusillanimous, irrational fear.
The antidote to fear? Let’s return to where Jesus is in verse 3 and stand up for Him. Let’s be the man with the shriveled hand; the man who couldn’t help Himself but knew Jesus could. Let’s let Him take our hand and make us understand that ‘He’s got this.’ That, cowering and fear or not, He wants us just as we are, that we don’t need to do a thing – that we really can’t – to make Him love us more for just who we are. That in Him there is power to stand so that no weapon – or fear – will prosper against us. During Christmas week, that’s such an important thing to remember because that is the reason He came.
Lord, forgive me my fears and doubts and the times I’ve been a coward.
Read ahead in Mark 3, verses 1-6