And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered.
Read Chapter 6
Ambrose of Milan
Then you heard the words of the Lord, saying, “Stretch forth your hand.” That is the common and universal remedy. You who think that you have a healthy hand beware lest it is withered by greed or by sacrilege. Hold it out often. Hold it out to the poor person who begs you. Hold it out to help your neighbor, to give protection to a widow, to snatch from harm one whom you see subjected to unjust insult. Hold it out to God for your sins. The hand is stretched forth; then it is healed. Jeroboam’s hand withered when he sacrificed to idols; then it stretched out when he entreated God.
“Are you angry at me because I have healed the whole man on the sabbath day?” In this place he revivified with the salutary strength of good works the hand which Adam stretched out to pluck the fruit of the forbidden tree. The hand which had withered through a crime was healed by good deeds. Christ thereby rebuked the Jews who violated the precepts of the law with evil interpretations. They thought that they should rest even from good works on the sabbath, since the law prefigured in the present the form of the future in which indeed the days of rest from evils, not from blessings, would come.
But the law by things present prefigured the form of things future, among which surely the days of rest to come are to be not from good works but from evil. For although secular works may be given up, yet it is no idle act of a good work to rest in the praise of God.
You have heard then the words of Him who says, Stretch forth your hand. That is a frequent and common cure, and you that think your hand is whole, beware lest it be contracted by avarice or sacrilege. Stretch it forth oftener to help your neighbor, to protect the widow, to save from injury him whom you seethe victim of unjust attack; stretch it forth to the poor man who beseeches you; stretch it forth to the Lord, to ask pardon of your sins; as the hand is stretched forth so is it healed.
You have heard then the words of Him who says, Stretch forth your hand. That is a frequent and common cure, and you that think your hand is whole, beware lest it be contracted by avarice or sacrilege. Stretch it forth oftener to help your...
But though our Lord was healing the body, He asked this question, “is it lawful to save the soul or to lose it?” either because He performed His miracles on account of faith in which is the salvation of the soul; or, because the cure of the right hand signified the salvation of the soul, which ceasing to do good works, seemed in some measure to have awithered right hand, i.e. He placed the soul for the man, as men are wont to say, “So many souls were there.”.
But it may be questioned how Matthew came to say, that they asked the Lord, whether it was lawful to heal on the sabbath, when Luke in this place states that they rather were asked of the Lord. We must therefore believe that they first asked the Lord, and that then He understanding by their thoughts that they sought an opportunity to accuse Him, placed the man in the midst whom He was going to heal, and asked the question which Mark and Luke relate Him to have asked. It follows, And looking round about upon...
He chiefly heals and teaches on the sabbaths, not only to convey the meaning of a spiritual sabbath, but because of the more numerous assembly of the people.
But since the Master had excused by an undeniable example the breach of the Sabbath, with which they charged His disciples, their object is now by watching to bring afalse accusation against the Master Himself. As it follows, And the Scribes and Pharisees watched him, if he would heal on the sabbath, that if He did not, they might accuse Him of cruelty or impotence; if He did, of violation of the sabbath. Hence it follows, that they might find an accusation against him.
But the Lord anticipating the false charge which they were preparing against Him, reproves those who by wrongly interpreting the law thought that they must rest on the Sabbath-day even from good works; whereas the law commands us to abstain from servile works, i.e. from evil, on the sabbath. Hence it follows, Then said Jesus to them, I ask you, Isit lawful to do go...
The miracle sometimes converts to faith those who had disbelieved the word, but the Pharisees watched him to see if he would heal on the sabbath. The nature of an envious person is such that he makes the praises of others food for his own disease and is wickedly maddened by their reputation. Once more he spoke to this; “he reveals deep and mysterious things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.” And why did he do this? Perhaps it might be to move the cruel and unpitying Pharisee to compassion. The man’s malady [his withered hand] perhaps might shame them and persuade them to dispel the flames of their envy. This question is most wise indeed and a most suitable statement to meet their folly. If it is lawful to do good on the sabbath and nothing prevents the sick being pitied by God, cease picking up opportunities for faultfinding against Christ and bringing down on your own head the sentence which the Father has decreed against those who dishonor the Son. You...
But He taught things far beyond their comprehension, and opened to his hearers the way to future salvation by Him; and then after having first taught them, He suddenly showed His divine power, as it follows, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered.
For this is the way of the envious man, he feeds in himself his pang of grief with the praises of others. But the Lord knew all things, and searches the hearts; as it follows, But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand. And he arose, and stood forth, that perchance he might stirup the cruel Pharisees to pity, and allay the flames of their passion.
This is a very useful question, for if it is lawful to do good on the sabbath, and there is no reason why those who work should not obtain mercy from God, cease to gather up accusation against Christ. But if it be not lawful todo good on the sabbath, and the law prohibits the safety of life, you are become the accuser of the law. Fo...
When the eyes of all were, as it were riveted together, and their minds also fixed upon the consideration of the matter, he said to the man, Stretch forth your hand; I command you, Who created man. But he who had the withered hand hears, and is made whole hole, as it follows, And be stretched it, and it was restored. But they who should have been astonished at the miracle, increased in malice; as it follows, But they were filled with madness; and commune done with another what they should do to Jesus.