Miracles of Jesus: Healing a Man's Withered Hand

Bible Says Jesus Christ Angers Pharisees by Doing Miraculous Work on the Sabbath

Jesus healing miracle man withered hand
A Byzantine mosaic in the Cathedral of Monreale in Italy, of Jesus Christ healing a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. Public domain

The Bible describes the famous miracle of Jesus Christ healing a man's withered hand in three different Gospel reports: Matthew 12:9-14, Mark 3:1-6, and Luke 6:6-11. Jesus notices the man in a synagogue during Sabbath day worship services, and decides to miraculously heal him in front of the Jewish religious leaders (called Pharisees) to make a point about how to choose what's right on the Sabbath day, when work was traditionally prohibited.

Here's the story of what the Bible says happened that day...

Is it Unlawful on the Sabbath?

Both the Book of Matthew and the Book of Luke set the stage for this healing miracle by describing what happened soon before: the Pharisees confronted Jesus about his disciples picking kernels of wheat from a field to eat on the Sabbath, because doing so was technically work. The Pharisees asked in Luke 6:2: "Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?"

Jesus replied that the greater consideration was that his disciples were hungry, so it was fine for them to meet their need for food by doing the small amount of work involved in picking the wheat grains. In Matthew 12:7-8, Jesus tells the Pharisees: "If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

Doing Good

Matthew describes how Jesus met the man with the withered hand after that: "Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there.

Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, 'Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?'

He said to them, 'If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.'" (Matthew 12:9-12).

Mark 3:4 describes an additional question that Jesus asked the Pharisees: "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."

Jesus often confronted the Pharisees about the need to think about the meaning behind the Sabbath day rather than just blindly implementing rules for the sake of simply following rules. One of the other times that Jesus chose to heal someone on the Sabbath in front of the Pharisees was the miraculous healing of a swollen man whose life-threatening condition required emergency help.

Completely Restored

The story concludes by Jesus illustrating his points about the Sabbath by doing healing work right then. Mark 3:5-6 reports: "He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.'

He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.

Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus."

Jesus was angry that the Pharisees were only concerned about trying to catch him doing something wrong rather than about showing mercy to the man in need of help. He showed them that expressing love is more important than simply following rules.