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The Shriveled Hand and The Sabbath  

Another time he (Jesus) went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there.  Some of them (the Pharisees) were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath.  Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

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.

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.  Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. Mark 3:1-6

It’s almost unbelievable how people think and react to certain things.  This episode is just one of many in Scripture where it would be embarrassing to be part of the religious community, where ingrained beliefs hold sway over common sense and knowing right from wrong. It appears from the reaction of those present in the synagogue that day that Jesus had committed a terrible sin because he healed someone on the Sabbath. Not even Jesus’ questions to them could penetrate their mindset as they were positive that Jesus had made an unforgivable mistake.  And being the strict law-enforcing Pharisees they were, there was no doubt what action must be taken.

This wasn’t the first time that Jesus was in “hot water” with the ruling religious authorities. He had few, if any, good words to say to them or about them. Jesus intentionally and repeatedly pointed out their fatalistic thoughts about himself and about his Father, God.  But, alas, it was to no avail, as no one was willing to listen to him.

This encounter takes on new meaning compared to others because this encounter has a unique aspect that is not found elsewhere.  This episode describes how the religious community (the Pharisees) plotted with the political community (the Herodians) to kill Jesus.  Is this important?  Undoubtedly so, because what it means is that religious authority will stop at nothing to achieve what it deems to be important and necessary, and if the religious community has to enlist the assistance of civil government to fulfill their desires, whether those desires are good or bad, so be it!  The end result must meet their expectations, and let nothing get in the way.

As seen in this encounter with Jesus, the religious community grasped the arm of the local government to advance their agenda.  It was this gathering where the Pharisees demonstrated their true nature by setting aside the moral law that included the command “Thou shall not kill.”  They were anxious and determined that Jesus be put out of existence.

Does anything like this happen in our world today? Could anything like this happen in our world today?

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