googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Mark 3:1-6, Are We Ever Pharisees?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Mark 3:1-6, Are We Ever Pharisees?

Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 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. 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 (NIV)

Jesus’ chief criticism of the Pharisees was their hypocrisy. These men, often revered by the masses, would pride themselves on their strict adherence to the Law. Yet Jesus correctly identified them as being the worst offenders. One glaring example of this hypocrisy comes from Mark. Though the irony escaped me for a long time, this is perhaps the most egregious example of their blatant disregard for the Law.

There are several occasions when Jesus healed on the Sabbath. Besides this passage in Mark we also know he healed a blind man near the pool of Siloam (John 9:6-7) and the crippled man in Bethesda (John 5:7-9). In the latter examples, the Pharisees heard about the healing afterward and were angry with Jesus that He had healed on the Sabbath. But in this passage from Mark, they watched Him closely to see if He would heal on the Sabbath. Mark gives us their motives - they sought a reason to accuse Him.

Therein lays the irony. While Jesus sought to save a life on the Sabbath, they sought to kill Him! So blind were they in their anger toward Him, they could not see their own hypocrisy. While they (falsely) accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath, they were doing it in spades. No wonder Jesus “looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts.”

It’s a fine line we have to walk and sometimes we step over it. It’s easy to judge. It’s easy to speak out against sin when we recognize it. But it’s also easy to be hypocrites.

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