The ways of Satan should never surprise us for he walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour and one of the tools he uses is temptation to draw us away from God and into sin. James reminds us of this principle and its stages of development. First we are lured, then enticed, sin is born, and finally this sin leads to death. Satan may have desired to devour but God had two points that He wanted to reveal in this chapter: the true heart of the religious leaders and God’s heart of compassion for the poor and needy.
Like many atheists today, the religious leaders in Jesus’ day really did understand that he was the Son of God. But with superimposed religious hypocrisy they came to “worship” but were really judges with evil motives. James asked: “Did not God choose the poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom…” which is the reason why God intended for this divine appointment. It was so that this man might leave giving glory to God and present Him as his defense to the world: Jesus is who he said he was.
Now as to the religious leaders we have this addition to the story “Would not any one of you, if he had one sheep that fell into a pit on the Sabbath, take hold of it and lift it out?” And so then not hearing a response Jesus asked: “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath, or evil, to save a life or destroy it?” Hampton Keathley IV points out: “He is trying to save life and they are trying to destroy life (His to be precise.)” Oh the depth to which men’s hearts have fallen: “The human mind is more deceitful than anything else….I, the Lord, [alone] probe into people’s minds. I examine people’s hearts.” [Jer 17] And this gives us the backdrop of why Jesus looked about upon them with anger (righteous indignation).
The silence is deafening, the hearts begin to palpitate, and the faces turn crimson red as He posed questions. Jesus said stand up and the man stands alone as if a slave on the auction block. But as grieved as Jesus was for the religious leaders his heart of compassion poured out with a simple command: stretch out your hand. It is then that one can run, hide or obey. He chose the latter and found he has been restored whole!
And where are the supposedly righteous worshipers, those who had been given the right and privilege to teach the very Word of God? They left immediately the holy place where God’s Word and the Word Himself was proclaimed to counsel how to break the commandment “thou shalt not murder.” Pascal said, ‘Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”
Beloved, what do the eyes of Jesus see when he looks at you? Does he see righteous indignation because you have been lured by the entrapment of the evil one and care more for the spotted owl than the needy next door to you? Or are you the needy next door in need of hearing the Word stretch out your hand …I will heal you? What do His eyes see?