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Archive for April, 2010

“There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath!” Most thought, what an odd thing to say, while looking at the seat that the familiar voice generally occupied in the front. It wasn’t so much that the expression didn’t match the overbearing manner of the individual’s behavior; or that the statement seemed out of line for the personality punctuating the moment. In fact, not a person in this house of worship was surprised by the principal’s public accusation. Everyone in the small town knew the synagogue ruler, and when he addressed the crowd, no one was astonished.

The scandalizing reflection was the context of the argument. A daughter of Abraham, liberated from eighteen years of aguish, was accused of choosing the wrong day for a healing. The shocking tone of the vicious accusation was for the wrong occasion of her salvation. In a strikingly unison chorus of praise, the large majority of the congregation shared this dear woman’s victory. Into this situation entered an angry individual who deemed it his responsibility to alter the miracles significance with an accusation of transgression against this joyful Sabbath day’s phenomenon. Sadly, the voice carried such weight that every joyful heart was suddenly stilled and silenced by one man’s outrage.

And then the transformation happened—howbeit, only in the foremost rows. The whispers and murmurings of agreement began to punctuate this most joyful occasion. A wave of arrogance swept through the synagogue of seismic proportions. At first it was most unnoticeable, but as the chorus of praises diminished the feigned, indignant swellings began. The woman in question, who had grown so tall in stature, began to bend emotionally in humiliation—as if she had brought shame upon that whole congregation of these mighty men! No one rebutted the arrogance, no one broke the silence, and no one redeemed the moment on behalf of the healer or the healed. It was guilty silence that should weigh heavily in eternity.

The Man with Healing in His wings was forced to action. “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” He was right—the self-prescribed holy men knew it. Every responsible attendee knew in a moment the care of property that had life. And yet, they were all so quick to negate this poor woman’s life to less than useful. The sad commentary on the hearts resolved into two conditions, the arrogant were humiliated and the bound once again recognized an opportunity for freedom. His opponents were mortified. However, the remaining delighted in the wonderful things of the carpenter.

And in this way, I could have been an eyewitness to the miracle of the man from Nazareth.

J. Robert Hanson

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All eyes were fix upon him as he taught. Who in the room remembered the text—it would soon become insignificant and unmemorable anyways. Not because it wasn’t good mind you, it was delivered with the same incredible foresight and knowledge everyone had become accustom to from this carpenter’s son. It was the circumstance surrounding the message that blocked memories.

As he was teaching in customary fashion, glancing around the room, connecting with every eye fixated upon him, the incident started. Divided between ranks of self-important valuable people and humble folk of every background imaginable, he gazed compassionately. The more “noble” occupied the prestigious places closest to the front. And between their shoulders, necks straining to catch a glimpse of his eyes, were the commoners. These sat on the edge of their modest seats clinging to hope from his every word. During another perusal through the room, making eye contact and reaching deep into each soul that allowed him entrance, he noticed in the back a hunched figure. The poor peasant made every attempt to gaze at level ground upon him, but her physical frame would not allow it.

He saw her—barely, and asked the dignified, gracious, bent over woman to come up front with him. You would think hushed whispers would invade the small room, but that never transpired. Silence, silence was all that could be heard—holy, healthy, undistinguishable silence. She, the dear lady, standing not much taller than when seated, inched her way to the center where he stood. All eyes in the suspense charged environment were fix upon the teacher, no one recalled the previous lessons, and everyone sat in soundless anticipation of what he would do. There is not one important word from God, that he had just concluded, recorded anywhere. Everything—children, sniffling, coughing, whispers, shuffling, creaking, everything had come to a standstill. All eyes watched his eyes watching her fragile frame advance its way closer to the front. With every step she took, every breath in the synagogue exhaled louder. That was the only sound—people breathing louder.

His voice, like a crack of thunder in the night, broke the silence. Its not that he was loud or overbearing, it was just the quietness of the room made volume was so obvious. He really didn’t even shout when he announced with confidence, “Woman, you are freed from your sickness.” It was more of a soft command, as a father would speak gently guiding his child to action. He took those averaged-sized carpenter hands, and reaching out gingerly, placed them palms down upon the woman’s back and the miraculous happened. This dear woman, this gracious angel, this exhausted human soul slowly rose in height to view in full frame, the face of her savior. “Glory to God” rang out of this maiden’s voice. Loudly, clearly, assuredly, victoriously, triumphantly, as if released from years of collapse, her lungs could once again fully fill up and she sang out—Glory to God!

J. Robert Hanson

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