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Again, he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

English Standard Version. (2016). (Mk 3:1–6). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Jesus is in church. He found a man with a crippled hand. The Deacons (Pharisees and religious elites) had their eyes on Jesus to see if he would heal him, hoping to catch him in breaking a church rule. Jesus knows this. And so, He is deliberate. He says to the man, “Stand here where we can see you.”

Then he spoke to the people: “What kind of action suits Sunday best? Doing good or doing evil? Helping people or leaving them helpless?” No one said a word. Imagine, they were completely silent. This is stunning that they cannot answer this question.

He looked them in the eye, one after another, angry now, furious at their hard-nosed religion. He said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” He held it out—it was as good as new! The Deacons (Pharisees) got out as fast as they could, sputtering about how they would join forces with Herod’s followers and ruin him.

Jesus is deliberate. His challenge to us is clear. He wants everyone to know the rules aren’t helpful if they don’t focus on doing what God wants.

Jesus went into the synagogue to worship; and while He was there, He deliberately healed a man. Certainly, He could have waited one more day, but once again He wanted to challenge the pharisaical legalistic traditions.

  • This time the Pharisees were expecting Him to heal, so they kept their eyes wide open.
  • Our Master’s questions were never answered by His enemies.
  • Since evil is at work every day, including the Sabbath Day, why should good not be at work as well?
  • Death is always at work, but that should not hinder us from seeking to save life.

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 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 Lord’s command, stretched out his hand, and was healed.

So incensed were the religious elites over what Jesus had done that they united with 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.

Our Master Jesus [Yeshua] had now reached a crisis in His ministry. Great crowds were following Him, but their interest was not in spiritual things. 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 [The Sermon on the Mount]—explaining the spiritual basis of His kingdom.

Good news: He offered them forgiveness, fulfillment, and freedom; but they refused His offer.

Have you accepted His offer?

Source: Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, pp. 118–119). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.