During a message titled “Demonstration of Faith,” Bishop T.D. Jakes showed how the man with the withered, or shriveled, hand demonstrated his faith to Jesus. Mark 3:1-5 says the following:
What Is a Hand?
T.D. Jakes said a hand is a symbol of power. Here’s the first thing I thought of:
We also use our hands to reach for things and to grasp them, he said.
If Your Hand Is Withered, What Does That Mean?
“[H]is power is withered,” Jakes said. “His reach is withered. His grasp is withered. And he’s in the synagogue with a withered hand. That means he sees stuff he can’t reach. That means he wants stuff he can’t hold onto. That means he wants to move stuff that he doesn’t have the power to move.
“His heart is not withered. His leg is not withered. His eyes are not blind. His ears are not deaf. His hand is withered. [That means his] reach is withered. His grasp is withered. His power is withered.”
What’s the Importance of the Man with the Withered Hand Being in the Synagogue?
“This is the only time in the gospel that we see a man with a withered hand,” Jakes said. “Isn’t that ironic? After this day in the field, we come in the house and we see this man with a withered hand. Can’t reach. Can’t grasp. Can’t move. And the man is seated in the synagogue. In a synagogue that has lost its power. In a synagogue that has lost its reach. In a synagogue that has lost its grasp.
“Is this man not an illustration of the synagogue he’s sitting in? Is this man not outwardly what the synagogue is inwardly? Isn’t it true that they have lost their ability to reach, to grasp, and to move? Isn’t it true that their traditions have made the word of God of no effect?
“The synagogue is still there, but hasn’t it lost its reach, its grasp, and its ability to move? Isn’t that why they’re jealous of Jesus in the first place? Isn’t Jesus the arm of God? So you see a stretching God before a withering church.”
Why Was the Church Withering?
“I’ll prove to you that the synagogue is withered,” Jakes said. “Because they do not see the need of the man as more important than the day of the healing.”
In other words, the church was more concerned with rules than healing the man’s hand.
Are You Withering Like That Church?
“How many times has God extended to you an opportunity and you missed the opportunity because your mentality withered away from God’s promise stretched out to you?” Jakes asked. “He’s stretching out toward you. He’s giving you opportunity. He’s giving you days. He’s giving you chances. He’s giving you chances to experience the power of God. And whatever is withered in your understanding of God or your understanding of yourself, the lord sent me here tonight to say that God wants to heal your withered understanding of yourself, your withered perception of God, your withered fear about your situation. God is saying to you who have been limited: stretch forth your hand. …
“If you are going to experience what God has for you, you have to stretch beyond your limitations, you have to stretch beyond your opinions, you have to stretch beyond your revelation and go where you have never gone before so you can do what you have never done before. … Stretch. Stretch out. Stretch out. This is your chance to stretch. If you don’t stretch, you’re going to be where you’ve always been. If you don’t stretch, you’re going to stay in the same condition. If you don’t stretch, you’re going to sit in the same chair. If you don’t stretch, you’re going to have the same job. If you don’t stretch, you’ll never get out of your predicament. It is time for you to stretch. Stretch in how you think, stretch in how you function. Stretch in how you perceive yourself. You’re playing it too close. You’re playing it too close. You’re playing it too close. You’re playing it too close. And the only reason God showed up was to create an atmosphere for you to stretch.”
How Did Jesus Heal the Man with the Withered Hand?
“He never healed him,” Jakes said. “He challenged him. He challenged the man with the withered hand to do something that people with withered hands shouldn’t be able to do. He didn’t lay hands on him. He didn’t anoint him with oil. He just gave him an opportunity to stretch.”
Why Was It Such an Act of Faith for the Man with the Withered Hand to Stretch His Arm?
“The call to the man with the withered hand challenges him to do something that the man with the withered hand has not historically been able to do,” Jakes said. “Not to grasp, not to reach, not to move. Now, this is a demonstration of faith. … I did a little research on withered hands. And people with withered hands not only don’t have muscle, they don’t have the bone – the substance to stretch.”
How Does God Want You to Demonstrate Your Faith Like the Man with the Withered Hand?
As Jakes said, you may be thinking to yourself:
- I don’t have the money for this
- I don’t have the degree for this
- I don’t have the background for this
- I don’t have the training for this
- I’ve never done [this] before
- I don’t have the resources [to accomplish this]
but God wants you to demonstrate your faith by believing his Word.
Then What’ll Happen?
“[S]tretching hurts,” Jakes said. “You see, a body at rest stays at rest. And since this hand has never been stretched, the first time, it’s gonna hurt. But you’ve gotta stretch over the pain to be free from the past.
“So, what do we get out of this? We get that it hurts to stretch, but we must stretch anyway. It hurts when you’re insecure, when you’re intimidated, when you have low self-esteem, and you have an opportunity that is not historically in your personality. It hurts to stretch. You say, ‘This is not me.’ That’s not true. Just because you’ve never done it before doesn’t mean it’s not you. God is challenging you to discover stuff you [don’t] know you have …
“I want you to understand Jesus says, ‘Stretch forth your hand.’ When he said it [to the man with the withered hand], the man’s hand was still withered. It didn’t get healed until the man tried to do what Jesus said. Hearing the word will not heal you, but doing the word –
“I dare you to try to be the man you want to be.
“I dare you to try to do what you’ve never done before.
“I dare you to try to leave your past behind and go into the final frontier, where miracles occur.
“I dare you to press over the pain and stretch into the possibility.”
What About My Haters?
“What impressed me [about the story of the man with the withered hand] is the challenge comes and the stretching comes not only in the midst of pain but in an environment of criticism,” Jakes said. “At the same time the man is stretching, the critics are criticizing, letting me know that I don’t have to have your support to stretch out. I can stand there with you quoting scriptures against me, but if God be for me –
“Stretch while they’re talking about you. Stretch while they’re arguing with you. Stretch while they’re debating whether you can do it or not. You don’t need the Pharisees to be able to stretch out your hand. …
“The lord sent you here tonight to tell you that the Pharisees don’t have power over your predicament. Let them say whatever they want to say. When God says stretch, stretch.
“The reason that’s important to me [is because the Bible says, ‘[I]f two of you on Earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven,’] but there was no agreement. He stretched in disagreement and got his miracle.”
Is Timing Important?
After the man’s hand was healed, the Pharisees began plotting to kill Jesus, and Jesus and his disciples left the synagogue. “Jesus stretches himself out to you for a moment,” Jakes said. “Seize that moment before he withdraws, because the only thing he came to heal was you – not your critics.”