He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” And He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him. Mark 3:1-6
Today's thoughts from today's verses:
In today’s passage the Gospel of Mark gives us round two in the debate between Jesus and the Pharisees regarding the Sabbath. A man with a withered hand is present and is about to become the focal point of the synagogue. To the Pharisees the man with the withered hand is nothing more than a pawn they are seeking to use to entrap Jesus. It is likely the Pharisees arranged for the man with the withered hand to be present in order to create for themselves this opportunity to accuse Jesus of healing on the Sabbath. For them healing on the Sabbath would be work and working on the Sabbath would be a violation of Jewish religious law.
In round one the Pharisees took the offensive and accused Jesus and his disciples of breaking the Sabbath by doing the work of harvesting grain on the Sabbath. In round two Jesus takes the offensive. If the Pharisees had not manipulated the situation for their evil purposes and the man with the withered hand had showed up on his own, Jesus would simply have healed the man out of compassion and concern. But because of the situation, Jesus strikes first and both thwarts the Pharisees and uses the man’s need for healing as a teaching moment for all.
Jesus has the man with the withered hand come forward. Surely, the expectation of the man, the Pharisees, and everyone else in the synagogue is the immediate healing of the man. Instead, Jesus asks them all a question, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” The blow is struck and the Pharisees are thwarted. Through his question, Jesus teaches everyone that whether or not a person in need should be healed on the Sabbath is not a matter of it being work or it not being work. Rather, it is a matter of the necessity of doing good on the Sabbath. To put the issue of work above the necessity of doing good is to make doing harm lawful on the Sabbath.
No wonder the Pharisees are silenced. Jesus has accused them and they have been masterfully put in their place. Grieved with their hardness of heart, Jesus looks at them angrily and then heals the man. Round two is over and the Pharisees go out to plot Jesus’ demise.
Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:
Lord, to see you at work skillfully removing the obstacles to your healing the man in the story reminds that it is truly a wonderful thing to belong to and have the confidence that I am always the beneficiary of your compassion and concern. In everything that happens to me you are at work bringing good to me and not harm. Thank you for the harm you took upon yourself that I might know your goodness day by day and forever. Amen!
Posted on Tue, January 30, 2018
by Ken Hart