Friends, in our Gospel today, Jesus heals a man with a withered hand. As I’ve said many times before, we tend to domesticate Christ, reducing him to a guru or a teacher, one spiritual guide among many. But this is to do violence to the Gospel, which presents him not simply as teacher but as savior.

I realize that the culture militates against Christianity at this point, for it steadily teaches the ideology of self-esteem and self-assertion. “I’m okay and you’re okay.” “Who are you to tell me how to behave?”

But this sort of thing—whatever value it might have politically or psychologically—is simply inimical to a biblical Christianity. The biblical view is that we have, through the abuse of our freedom, gotten ourselves into an impossible bind. Sin has wrecked us in such a fundamental way that we have become dysfunctional. Until we truly feel what it means to be lost and helpless, we will not appreciate who Jesus is and what he means. 

Jesus is someone who has rescued us, saved us, done something that we could never, even in principle, do for ourselves.