THE WITHERED MEMBER
Have you seen that Christ is versus religion? But listen, this is just the first sabbath. Following this, there is another sabbath in chapter 12. After the first sabbath was over, the Lord Jesus went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, where there was a man with a withered hand. The religious people then took the opportunity to trouble the Lord Jesus again by asking, "Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?" (v. 10). Here was a case of a man with a withered hand—not a case of a whole man, but a case of a member of the body, a hand. It is quite meaningful. In the first sabbath the Lord Jesus took care of Himself as the Head of the Body. Now in the second sabbath the Lord needs to take care of His members. Here is a withered hand, a withered member nearly dead. The Lord answered the Pharisees, "What man shall there be of you, that shall have one sheep, and if this fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man of more value than a sheep!" (12:11-12). He said in other words, "What is wrong then if I heal this withered member?" The hand is a member of the body, and the sheep is a member of the flock. Have you seen this? On this sabbath the Lord indicated that He would do anything for the healing of His members, for the rescue of His fallen sheep. Sabbath or no sabbath, the Lord is interested in healing the dead members of His Body. Regulations do not matter to the Lord; but the rescue of His fallen sheep means very much to the Lord. The lesson from the first sabbath is that the Head is everything, Christ is everything—Christ is David, the greater Temple, and the Lord of the sabbath. But in the second sabbath the lesson is that the Lord Jesus does not care for anything but His withered members, His fallen sheep. It is very meaningful.
Christianity today cares for regulations—they do not care for Christ, the Head. Christians today care for their formalities, doctrines, and rules—they do not care for the withered members of the Body of Christ, they do not care for the sheep of the flock.
In the beginning of 1968 something really happened in Los Angeles. The burial. It was the time of the New Year Conference, and I had no intention of encouraging people to be buried. But at the closing of one meeting, one said, "I want to be buried." Then others followed until many brothers and sisters in the church were buried. They were all so deeply moved to testify by this act that they were burying all their oldness, and by doing this they became alive. I was really surprised by this move to be buried. I was trying, in fact, to say some word to stop it, but I was checked by the Spirit within. Who was I to stop something of the Holy Spirit? I said not a word until the third day, when I predicted that the church in Los Angeles would certainly be criticized by the religious people for this act. It was not more than ten days before the criticism came. "There is heresy in Los Angeles," they said. "Believers who are already properly baptized are being baptized again. Where is the scriptural ground for a believer to be baptized again after being properly baptized already?" I do not like to argue, but I wish to tell you that so many withered "hands" were healed. Not only did this occur in Los Angeles, but following this in many places, many dead ones through this kind of burial came alive. What can we say?
(Christ versus Religion, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)