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The Law

Legalistic rule following can cause me to miss God’s goal for my life. Jesus warns me against it. it is insidious and will get me off track.

Jesus is clear that I always side for life. This is essential. In our culture of death, we need to always stand for life and spiritual health.

In the face of the question that Jesus has for us, the religious elite stand silent. The religious elite know their hypocrisy. May I side with Jesus and not the elite. God is in a good mood and Jesus will side with God and life. That deserves a shout out for King Jesus.

Jesus entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a shriveled hand. In order to accuse him, they were watching him closely to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath. He told the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand before us.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. After looking around at them with anger, he was grieved at the hardness of their hearts and told the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So, he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. Immediately the Pharisees went out and started plotting with the Herodians against him, how they might kill him. | Mark 3:1-6 (CSB)

But they kept silent. This is stunning. With his command to get up, Jesus exercises authority. Nor does the malevolent scrutiny of the elite stop him from doing so.

“In the midst” prepares for a public demonstration of his healing power that even they won’t be able to deny. They’d denied its legality. Now he asks a question of legality. As the present tense in “he says to the man” highlights Jesus’ command, so the present tense in “he says to them” highlights Jesus’ silencing question.

The elites (Pharisees) wouldn’t deny the legality of doing good rather than harm on the Sabbath, of saving life on the Sabbath rather than killing. But they keep silent out of embarrassment over Jesus’ implied argument: healing a withered hand would count as doing good, not healing it as doing harm; and healing it would count as saving life, not healing it as killing. But how could healing a withered hand count as saving life? Well, death is already invading the man by way of his hand. Its witheredness counts as the onset of death for the whole man. So, its healing would count as saving life, which is doing good.

Having the power to heal it but not doing so would count as killing, as doing harm by letting death continue its invasion of the man. Killing and doing harm are prohibited on every day of the week, most especially on the Sabbath, since it came into being for the benefit of humanity. Saving life and doing good are required on every day of the week, most especially on the Sabbath, again because it came into being for the benefit of humanity. With this implied argument Jesus once more shows himself Master also of the Sabbath.

Here is the literal translation:

And he says to the man who had the withered hand, “Get up [apparently he was sitting] in the midst [of the Pharisees].” 4 And he says to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do harm, to save life [on the Sabbath] or to kill?”


Christian Standard Bible. (2017). (Mk 3:1–6). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

Gundry, R. H. (2010). Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation (pp. 147–151). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.