9Departing from there, He went into their synagogue. 10And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse Him. 11And He said to them, “What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? 12“How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, 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 to normal, like the other. 14But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him. Matthew 12:9-14

It’s not difficult to see when a home group, church, community, ministry, organization, commandment keeping fellowship, movement, bible study group, men’s/woman’s group, or any other label I’ve missed isn’t functioning in its purpose.  Assess the conditions of the people within those groups.  In our text, we find three types of people.  There was a man in the synagogue who couldn’t reach out due to a physical condition.  There were those present who were able to reach out but wouldn’t because there was no personal benefit for them.  Lastly, there was the One who did reach out not worrying about any inconvenience that He might incur in the ordeal.

Y’shua used this opportunity to teach you and I something deeper than just healing a withered hand. I’ve not only seen this in the ministry in Central America, but I am also hearing folks across the board complaining about the lack of action within the Body of Messiah.  Scripture equates a lack of action to an absence of faith. James explains this in chapter 2:14-26.

14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. 25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Y’shua used this opportunity in Matthew 12 to heal and do good on a day that no work was to be done in order to place a witness before the leaders and spectators. In my opinion, Y’shua was exposing what they had been doing wasn’t working.  A side note here, healing and doing good on the sabbath according to the Law is not considered work. The religious system during Y’shua’s day said it was forbidden, but the Creator never said in Scripture it was forbidden.  Y’shua’s act of justice not only brought honor to a shamed man, but He shamed the whole religious system of his day.  His act exposed dysfunctional faith.  His act exposed the heart of a dysfunctional religious group.  It also exposed a misappropriated faith of the people in His day.  In the First Century, faith had become a formality, and in my opinion nothing has changed today.  The leaders turned faith into a formula. I call it the checklist faith.  The checklist faith is where you go down the list of commandments checking them off on a daily basis.  Once the list is checked off you can breathe easy because you have demonstrated your faith and deep level of holiness.  If faith is about how well we keep a commandment, why in the world did Y’shua shame the leaders in Matthew 23:23?  Remember they even tithed mint and cumin because they taught that the least of the commandments were just as important as the most important ones.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

The leaders of Y’shua’s day were plagued with “reaching in” instead of “reaching out”.  Their focus was solely on themselves.  Speaking of focusing inwardly, I need to ask a sincere question.  How many of you attend an assembly or fellowship that has programs or some type of ministry outreach that you do?  I’m not talking about Facebook or any other social media platform.  I’m talking about one on one face to face human to human interaction.  Please write me to let me know.  I’m very curious.

The reason why I ask that question is because of a pattern that I’ve seen over the last seven years in the HRTWAM teen camp.  At the end of every camp we do a complete camp wrap up.  We ask the teens how they were impacted by the camp.  I’ve found that 90% of the teens respond by stating something along the following lines.  They say, “we struggle with purpose.  Nobody has ever taught us to recognize and walk out our purpose. We come to the HRTWAM camp and find purpose and get activated in it.”

I’m not tooting the camp’s horn at all because when you get down to the brass tacks of the camp’s purpose, it becomes obvious that there is a severe problem back at home.  The heart of the camp is based on Matthew 22:39.  That is one of greatest commandments in scripture.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  Seriously, that is what HRTWAM is teaching these teens.  I know some may be disappointed that we aren’t sharing the latest trend or revelation from the throne room of YHVH with these teens. We give them the tools they need to understand the what and why behind their serving and loving their neighbor, in other words.  Because when you understand WHY you do something, your WHAT has a greater impact and influence on those around you.  Reaching out has a far greater impact than reaching in.  Reaching out changes the world while reaching in inbreeds Pharisees, scribes, religious cults, and hypocrites. I’m left assuming if these teens come to Costa Rica and learn how to reach out to others through serving and loving their neighbor as themselves and its their first time doing so, there isn’t much “reaching out” going on back where they fellowship?  I’m not trying to shame folks or fellowships. My point is that faith without works is no faith at all no matter how many commandments we claim to obey.  If we refuse to obey Matthew 22:39, are we really keeping the other ones?  Reach out instead of reaching in. That’s what Y’shua did, and He is our example to live and die by. Blessings.