“And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.” Mark 3:1-6 (KJV)
These people came to “synagogue” seeking help. Did it matter that it was the “Sabbath Day”? Only to those who watched with a longingness to catch Jesus “breaking their law”. He was, in fact breaking no law; but fulfilling the law. They were looking for anything with which they could charge Jesus, and cause people to turn from Him.
The man with the withered hand was a human life. He had a need. He had probably been to the synagogue many times and no one offered to help him. Now Jesus was there with a message, a helping hand and a heart of grace, mercy and love.
The Pharisees even teamed up with the Herodians. The Herodians were a Jewish political “party” who were favorable toward Herod Antipas the governor at the time of Judea. These people hated the Pharisees, but they hated Jesus even more. The Pharisees hated Jesus because He was popular, powerful, and dangerous to their traditions and laws. The Herodians hated Jesus because He was seen as a threat to the rule of Judea – at least as they saw it.
Jesus’ question should have really thrown them off their guard (“And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?”). Is not the life of a fellow human being of more value than a misinterpreted law or tradition? Jesus thought so; and taught so. The Pharisees did not. Who will we believe? Whom will we follow?
-Tim A. Blankenship