6 On another sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered.

7The scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would cure on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. 8Even though he knew what they were thinking, he said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Come and stand here.’ He got up and stood there. 9Then Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?’

10After looking around at all of them, he said to him, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did so, and his hand was restored. 11But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.

It is not the “man there whose right hand was withered” who is the “withered” one in this story.

The “withered” ones are those who stand in the face of an obvious act of love, compassion, and healing and are “filled with fury” against an act of kindness. Their hearts are “withered”; their spirits are pinched. They have chosen the path of death and seek to destroy anything that gets in the way of their life-denying intent.

Anyone with a heart that is even a tiny bit open knows it is only lawful “to do good” on the sabbath. But these religious teachers refuse the unexpected “good” God intends, because this healing falls outside their prescribed parameters of how God can work.

How often do I join the “withered” ones? How often do I raise objections to the spontaneous outbreak of beauty and life simply because it does not fit within the narrow confines of my tight little worldview?

In John’s Gospel Jesus is said to have declared,

The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)

Wind is unexpected, unpredictable, and beyond human control. Wind does not conform to humanly constructed boundaries, borders, or restrictions. Wind “blows where it chooses,” not where I choose.

I seek to live in the freedom of the Spirit that Jesus demonstrates. I long to embrace the unexpected action of God.