Conspiracy theories are interesting. People get intrigued by them. This one really existed. The religious and political elites of the day actually conspired to have Jesus killed. It would work. It would happen.
What is interesting is the “why” it happened. Here is where I need to be careful. We all do. Jesus knew their heart. It was hard. There was not an ounce of compassion.
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)
Jesus could see “the hardening of their hearts” (literal translation), and their sin made Him angry. Our Master never became angry at the publicans and sinners, but He did express anger toward the self-righteous religious elites (aka Pharisees). 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.
So incensed were the elites over what Jesus had done that they united with the political leaders 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.
Our Master had now reached a crisis in His ministry. Great crowds were following Him, but their interest was not in things spiritual. The religious leaders wanted to destroy Him, and even some of Herod’s friends were getting involved. His next step would be to spend a night in prayer, call twelve men to assist Him as His Apostles, and preach a sermon — The Jesus Manifesto (aka The Sermon on the Mount) — explaining the spiritual basis of His kingdom.
He offered them forgiveness, fulfillment, and freedom; but they refused His offer.
Have you accepted His offer?
Here is the literal translation:
And on going out, the Pharisees immediately started plotting with the Herodians against him [Jesus] as to how they might destroy him.
“The Pharisees” identifies “they,” “their,” and “them” in the earlier verses of this episode and links them with the Pharisees in the preceding episode, which deals with the same issue of the Sabbath. They, along with the Scribes, are the religious elites’ Because Jesus’ argument for doing good by saving life on the Sabbath has dealt them a forensic defeat, they can’t take legal action against him by charging him with the capital crime of breaking the Sabbath a second time.
Instead, they plot to assassinate him. So far as we can tell, the Herodians with whom they plot are supporters of Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee under Roman sponsorship. Herod Antipas wasn’t a Jew. So ordinarily the Pharisees, who stressed Jewish purity, would be at loggerheads with the Herodians. But they need the Herodians’ political “pull” in an effort to get Jesus killed.
“Immediately” indicates that the conspiracy hatches on this very Sabbath. On the day that Jesus does good by saving life they conspire to do harm by assassinating him. That is, on the Sabbath they conspire to kill the “Master of the Sabbath”.
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 119). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
Christian Standard Bible. (2017). 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.