Jesus Reaches Across the Congregation
In my last post, we looked at how Jesus—and FBC—will reach out to impact our city. Today, we study how Jesus reaches across to the people inside a synagogue and touches one of their own.
A Man Stretches His Hand
9He left that place and entered their synagogue; 10a man was there with a withered hand, and they asked him, “Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath?” so that they might accuse him. 11He said to them, “Suppose one of you has only one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath; will you not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12How much more valuable is a human being than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath.” 13Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and it was restored, as sound as the other. 14But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.
In Matthew 12, Jesus teaches in the synagogue and connects to one of their own. A man’s body reflects the withering state of religious duty. Their interpretations of their policies drained the life out of this man. Jesus identifies the man and invites him to do the work on the sabbath. He responds by “stretching out his hand.” His gesture toward Jesus points out to everyone the man they can trust.
Jesus gives the man true rest—shalom—on the sabbath by restoring life to him. Pharisees and other religious people decide that this is enough to hatch a conspiracy against Jesus. They had used the sabbath—and their other interpretations of the law—to get out of doing good. Jesus shows them how to use the rules to fulfill God’s love. He reaches across to the people right in front of them.
A man with a withered hand studies in the synagogue for years, but no one recognized that Jesus might be able to give him – and their congregation — new life (Matthew 12). Jesus invites us to stretch out our hands to each other and connect our church together. How do we do that?
- Commit to attend and engage in worship. Look around at the others in the services. Participate actively in your attendance.
- Help others find a place where they fit. We’ll be sharing together in fellowships on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. These events are designed to show hospitality and make sure no one falls through the cracks.
- Spread the word about ministries before and after they happen. Write and publish stories of what your class and ministry groups are doing. We’ll add these stories to the newsletter and website. Post information on your blogs and Facebook updates about the good work that God is doing here.
- Share this same message to Tallahassee. Invite your friends to join you for our seasonal and special events that make our church such a great place to be. So many people in our community are withering from religious—and nonreligious activity. Share the rest that Jesus provides!
By connecting these groups across our church, we’ll also be able to plan our next steps together. Our Strategic Coordinating Committee is the “reaching across” group to communicate and share the stories of success and to learn from our failures.
Paul Waddell writes, “It is principally through worship that Christian congregations learn, are formed in, and become living instruments of the hospitality of God…At worship we hear the story of a God who is passionate about justice to the poor, vigilant in concern for widows, orphans, and refugees, and jealously protective of the vulnerable of the world. But we hear the story of God in order to become part of the story of God.”
Discuss: Ask your class how the Welcome Center has connected us together as a church? How does our worship lead to hospitality? What are some ways we show and demonstrate that to each other already? What are some ways we could improve?