Mark 3:1-12 (ESV)

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, 10 for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. 11 And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.

Jesus entered the synagogue, probably in Capernaum, on the Sabbath, and a man with a deformed hand happened to be there. The Pharisees present had their eyes on Jesus to see if he would heal the man. They desperately wanted to accuse Jesus again of working on the Sabbath. How strange. The Pharisees were waiting to see if Jesus would do good so they could accuse him of doing evil. Since a deformed hand wasn’t life-threatening, Jesus wasn’t supposed to heal on the Sabbath based on the manmade rules of Judaism. Sure enough, with everyone watching, Jesus called the man to stand up. Can you imagine what the man with the deformed hand was thinking? What was Jesus about to do? Jesus then asked the religious leaders, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” In other words, is it illegal to do good on the Sabbath? They couldn’t answer. Jesus asked the man to stretch out his hand. Would the man do it? If he did, he would face the rage of the Pharisees. The man stretched out his hand to Jesus and was immediately healed. The Pharisees now had their reason to eliminate Jesus.

It greatly distressed Jesus that the Pharisees didn’t answer his question about whether it was right to do good on the Sabbath. He was very angry at their unwillingness to show kindness to their fellow man, especially one with a need (v. 5). The answer should have been, “Of course it is right to do good on the Sabbath. In fact, to have the ability to do good and withhold it would be the true evil.” But the Pharisees could not care less about the man’s hand. They weren’t rejoicing when Jesus healed him. All they were interested in was seeing Jesus break their rule. If we ever find ourselves hoping that someone will sin, or rejoicing when someone falls, our hearts are not right. In fact, wanting to see someone do evil is an evil wish in itself. Check your heart. Can you think of anyone whom you hope to see fail? If so, confess and repent. Let’s make sure we aren’t as hard-hearted as these Pharisees. Let’s instead choose to love mercy and offer kindness to all people today.