The Gospel of Mark, chapter 3, records the time when Jesus healed a man who had a withered hand.
“Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Come here.’ And he said to them, ‘Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or kill?’ But they were silent. And he looked around them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.” – Mark 3.1-6
This passage has been written about, preached about, and sang about for many years. Most of the time the message focuses on the fact that Jesus was healing on the Sabbath. According to the Pharisees, this was subject to punishment. I’ve heard preachers make the point that Christians are called to stand up against the accepted norms of society when those accepted norms goes against the teachings of Jesus. I’ve read authors speak to the deceptive behaviors of the Pharisees and how culture hasn’t changed as the world has declared war against Evangelical Christianity today. I’ve even listened to radio broadcasts that plea the listener to “Stretch out your hand today and accept Jesus!”
I’m not here to argue, defend, or even address those talking points. What stands out to me above everything else in this passage is one simple word. The word: again. It says, “Again he entered the synagogue.” When I see that word, I see a man of persistence. Persistence is defined as: firm or obstinate in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.
Persistent is a word I would certainly use to define Jesus. When was questioned about His identity, He didn’t back down. He said, “I am the bread of life” (John 6.34). He said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8.12). He said, “I am the door,” (John 10.9), “I am the Good Shepherd,” (John 10.11), “I am the resurrection and the life,” (John 11.25-26), “I am the way, and the truth, and the life,” (John 14.6), and “I am the true vine,” (John 15.1).
When Jesus was facing arrest and crucifixion, he said, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will,” (Matthew 26.39). Jesus was focused on fulfilling the purpose for which He was sent, “…to seek and to save the lost,” (Luke 19.10).
Read the first two chapters of Mark’s Gospel and you will experience a sense of urgency in the life and ministry of Jesus. Trust me! Take a pen and underline the words “immediately” and “again” every time you see them.
So here’s the point. We need to live our lives with the same urgency and obedience to mission in which Jesus did. Furthermore, we need to do so with persistence. Whether you are a mother or a father, a wife or a husband. Whether you work in retail, medical, food industry, or wherever you work. Regardless of your relationship status or academic endeavors, we need to move forward diligently despite any adverse obstacles in our way.
We need to be like Jesus and make God’s will top priority in our lives. When I make mistakes as a husband, I need to repent to God and seek forgiveness from my wife. I need to own up to my faults and strive to be more considerate and more aware. When I fail as a father I need to apologize to my children and become more present and intentional. When I make mistakes as a pastor I need to learn from my ways and be better equipped for future endeavors.
Whatever your situation is, you need to be persistent. You are called to be persistent. All the while keeping your eyes and heart focused on pursuing the will of God. Paul said, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,” (Col. 3.23).
Paul’s point is that we aren’t called to live this life for ourselves. We are called and missioned to live for something much greater than that. We are called to live a life that points others to Jesus and finds purposeful-fulfillment in the pursuit of His will – not ours.