9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.

Matt 12:9-14 (NIV)

“Let the arrow fly from what quarter it might, He quenched its fiery power. In every corner of the field He was triumphant over evil, and received the homage of delivered captives.” Charles H. Spurgeon

I love the way our Lord cowers to no one – and of course, why should He? The religious elite of His day were just itching to find something to nab Him with – observing Him closely with evil intent. They were always thinking they could trap the King of Kings – as if God could be trapped – silly them. Mark is even clearer of the Pharisees motivation in his account of this healing:

1 Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Mark 3:1-2 (NIV)

In our verses for today Jesus enters the synagogue on the Sabbath to worship. Never mind it is the synagogue from which this hateful rabble presided over. Jesus resolutely proceeds in righteousness. It is here in the synagogue that they begin to pick yet another quarrel with the Master – under pious pretenses of course.

“We cannot opt to skip life's difficulties in favor of a quick road to God's blessings.” Michael Youssef

Our Lord demonstrates to us that we are not to shrink back from public worship even due to personal disputes. Satan is victorious when discord and division is sown between brothers and sisters. In Proverbs we are told of the seven things God hates and a man that stirs up dissension among his brothers is number seven - I have included the whole list as it is always good to be reminded:

16 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. Prov 6:16-19 (NIV)

Next, our Lord does not flinch by their inane questioning rather demonstrates the rightness of doing good works on the Sabbath. Loving in both action and Truth, He commands the man with the shriveled hand to stretch it out. Our Lord’s weapons of warfare were positive not negative – wooing with love. In Mark’s account, our Lord tells the infirmed one to stand up in front of everyone. Jesus did not come to do the miraculous fingerprints of God in a closet or under a bushel as the song goes:

3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” Mark 3:2-3 (NIV)

Interestingly, Mark also records Jesus’ rhetorical question to those seeking to trap Him which only more so demonstrated the foolishness of their accusations and silenced them as well as stating the deep distress Jesus had over their stubborn and hardened hearts:

4 Then Jesus asked them, "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" But they remained silent. 5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Mark 3:4-5 (NIV)

“Duty is not to be left undone, nor opportunities of doing good neglected, for fear of giving offense.” Matthew Henry

So these Pharisees sought the death of the One who came specifically to give them life – how ironic. What indignities, what injustices was our Lord subjected to – pursued as an outlaw, a plague to His country yet all the while – sadly unbeknownst to them - their greatest blessing, the Glory of His people Israel. May we not miss the mark as well.

What I Glean

  • Jesus triumphed over evil.
  • God hates dissension among brothers and sisters.
  • Jesus’ weapons of warfare were positive not negative.