World English Bible translation
3:1He entered again into the synagogue, and there was a man there who had his hand withered. 3:2 They watched him, whether he would heal him on the Sabbath day, that they might accuse him. 3:3 He said to the man who had his hand withered, "Stand up." 3:4 He said to them, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath day to do good, or to do harm? To save a life, or to kill?" But they were silent. 3:5 When he had looked around at them with anger, being grieved at the hardening of their hearts, he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was restored as healthy as the other. 3:6 The Pharisees went out, and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.
In Today's Scripture we see the first of the threats that are mentioned against Jesus and His ministry. In the last two lessons we have contrasted the ministry of Jesus with the way that God had been dealing with people before Christ. Jesus had told the Pharisees that His disciples had no need to fast while He was with them because those who attended the wedding feast did not fast during the wedding, but latter. His ministry was a time of celebration and activity. In the second lesson we saw how Jesus took onto Himself the Messianic title, "Son of Man," and claimed that the Son of Man was lord of the Sabbath. In Today's lesson, we see how the tensions between Jesus and those of the Pharisical party that were antagonistic to Him reach such a point that they threaten His very life.
When Jesus went into a synagogue on the Sabbath, some of the Pharisees were watching Him. There was a man there who had a withered hand. Some other passages suggest that this man may even have been planted by the Pharisees to see what Jesus would do. In either case, Jesus would not be intimidated by the situation or by their attitude. Instead, Jesus called the man forward and brought the situation into the open.
He said to the Pharisees, "'Is it lawful on the Sabbath day to do good, or to do harm? To save a life, or to kill?'" Jesus saw a man who had a withered hand and His first instinct was to have compassion for this man. He knew that in the heart of God was the desire to heal and to promote life. There was never a law against saving life or healing on the Sabbath. So when Jesus saw this man, He knew that God would never be angered because one of His beloved creations were healed and set right.
But the Pharisees saw Jesus as a threat. He threatened them because the things that Jesus taught did not conform to the way that they believed one should serve and honor God. In their minds, if God made a law that said that one must honor the Sabbath, to show reverence to God one should avoid anything that even approached the appearance of breaking the Sabbath regulation. Healing this man would surely be considered work because it was so difficult that no one else could do it. In their minds, if one had the choice of healing on the Sabbath or healing the day after the Sabbath, then the healing should be postponed until the day after the Sabbath in order to respect the Sabbath regulations.
Their problem was that they misunderstood the nature and power of God. The power to heal and the power to cast out demons came directly from the Father in heaven. Because God cannot be divided, the Son could only do what the father commanded Him to accomplish. So, in effect, they wanted Jesus to disobey the Father in order to honor their conception of the Sabbath.
The Father, through Jesus, told the man to stretch out his hand and the man was healed. God accomplished this by working through Jesus. These Pharisees refused to acknowledge that God was working through Christ and that was their biggest mistake. In setting themselves against Jesus they were setting themselves against the power of God. They were more concerned with their own rules and regulations than they were in the obvious manifestations on the power of God. They had their own preconceptions about how they believed that God worked and Jesus violated those preconceptions.
Our biggest mistake, as the Pharisees, can be the refusal to acknowledge that God is working in our life. When God does something that surprises you and takes you off guard, is your first response to reject it? Or, are you one of those people who are never surprised by what God does in your life?
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