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Religious Fraud is not OK

I need to be careful. It is way too easy to fall into the religious rule and legalism trap. The religious elites refused to help people because of their petty rules. God never intended any of that in making the Sabbath a holy day. Jesus gets angry and grieves over the hardness of the religious elites heart. He was passionate about helping and healing.

Jesus could see “the hardening of their hearts”, and their piousness made Him angry. Our Master never became angry at the publicans and sinners, but He did express anger toward the self-righteous Pharisees and religious elites. They would rather protect their traditions than see a man healed! The man, of course, knew little about this spiritual conflict. He simply obeyed our Master’s command, stretched out his hand, and was healed.

Jesus casts angry glances at the elites because their murderous design against him blots out the sympathy they should have for the man with the withered hand. For them, this man is only a potentially handy tool with which to nail Jesus. And Jesus grieves deeply because of their lack of sympathy. Introduced with an emphatic “he says to the man,” Jesus’ powerful command that the man stretch out his hand effects the healing. The hand was stiff, immobile, limp. Stretching it out demonstrated its restoration to health and vitality, to goodness and life.

So incensed were the elites over what Jesus had done that they united with the politicians (the Herodians) and started making plans to arrest Jesus and destroy Him. The Herodians were not a religious party; they were a group of Jews who were sympathetic to King Herod and supported his rule. Most of the Jews despised Herod and obeyed his laws reluctantly; so it was surprising that the Pharisees, who were strict Jews, would join themselves with these disloyal politicians. But it was a common enemy—Jesus—that brought the two groups together.

In response to this united opposition, Jesus simply withdrew from there; but He could not prevent the great crowds from following Him. These crowds were dangerous to His cause, of course, because they were not spiritually motivated; and the authorities could accuse Him of leading a popular revolt against the Romans. Yet Jesus received the people, healed the sick, and delivered the demonized. Once again, He warned the demons not to reveal who He is.

  • Mark 3:4–5 — 4 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. 5 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.
  • Matthew 15:3 — 3 And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?
  • Matthew 23:1–4 — 1 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, 2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; 3 therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. 4 “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.

Sources:

  1. Gundry, R. H. (2010). Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation (p. 147). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.
  2. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 119). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
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