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Jesus Defends Healing a Withered Hand on the Sabbath.

5-3. JESUS DEFENDS HEALING A WITHERED HANDON THE SABBATH.
(Probably Galilee.)
a MATT. 12:9-14; b MARK 3:1-6; c LUKE 6:6-11.

      a 9 And he departed thence. [The word here points to a journey as in xv 1:1 Matthew 11:1 and xv. 29 Matthew 29 , which are the only places where Matthew uses this expression. Greswell may be right in thinking that it indicates the return back to Galilee from the Passover, since a cognate expression used by John expresses such a journey from Galilee to Judæa. See John 7:3 ],

  c 6 And it came to pass on another sabbath [another sabbath than that on which the disciples plucked the grain], that he entered b again a and went into their {c the} synagogue and taught [The use of the pronoun "their" indicates that the synagogue in question was under the control of the same Pharisee who had caviled about plucking grain on the Sabbath. Where the synagogue was is not known. Some argue that from the presence of Herodians it was at Sepphoris, which was then capital of Herod Antipas. But Herodians were likely to be found everywhere.]:

  a 10 and behold, b there was a man who had {a  having} a {b his} hand withered. c and his right hand was withered. [The hand had dried up from insufficient absorption of nutriment, until its power was gone, and there was no remedy known by which it could be restored.]

  b 2 And they c the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, b whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; c that they might find how to accuse him. [They sought to accuse him before the local judges or officers of the synagogue; i. e., before a body of which they themselves were members. Jesus gave them abundant opportunity for such accusation, for instances of cures on the sabbath day; viz.: Mark 1:21 and 29 Mark 29 ; John 5:9 ; 9:14 ; Luke 13:14 ; 14:2 , and this case.]

a And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? [They were afraid that Jesus might not notice the man, so they spoke about him. But, taught by their experience in the grainfield, they changed their bold assertion, "It is not lawful," and approached the subject with a guarded question, hoping to get an answer that could be used as a ground for accusation.]

  c 8 But he knew their thoughts [omnisciently]; and he said to {b saith unto} the man that had his hand withered, c Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth. [Jesus thus placed the man openly before all the people, as though he stood on trial as to his right to be healed on the sabbath day.]

  a 11 And he said unto them, What man shall there be of you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?

  12 How much then is a man of more value than a sheep! [A man who had but one sheep would set a high value upon it. But the most valuable sheep is not to be weighed in the balance against a man. The fact that Jesus used this illustration shows clearly that such an action was allowed at that time, though the rabbins forbade it afterward.] Wherefore it is lawful to do good on the sabbath day.

  c 9 And Jesus aid {b saith} unto them, c I ask you, Is it lawful on the sabbath b day to do good, or to do harm? to save life, or to kill? {c destroy it?} [The rules of the Pharisees made the Sabbath question wholly a matter of doing or of not doing. But Jesus made it a question of doing good, and his question implies that a failure to do good, when one is able, is harmful and sinful. "The ability," says Cotton Mather, "to do good imposes an obligation to do it." To refrain from healing in such an instance would have been to abstain from using a power given him for that very purpose. The Jews held it lawful to defend themselves on the Sabbath, and considered themselves justified in killing their enemies attacked on that day (I Macc. ii. 41; Josephus Ant. XII. vi. 2]. b But they held their peace. [afraid to say that Jesus was wrong and stubbornly unwilling to admit that he was right.]

  5 And when he had looked round about on them c all, b with anger, being grieved at the hardening of their heart [The anger of Jesus was not a spiteful, revengeful passion, but a just indignation ( Ephesians 4:26 ). God may love the sinner, but he is angry at sin. Anger is not sin, but it is apt to run into it: hence it is a dangerous passion. Righteous anger rises from the love of God and man, but that which rises from self-love is sinful], he saith {c said}

  a 13 Then c unto him, b the man, Stretch forth thy hand. c And he did so: a he stretched it forth; and it b his hand was restored. a whole, as the other. [As Jesus here healed without any word or action of healing, merely ordering the man to stretch forth his hand, the Pharisees could find no legal ground for accusation. God can not be tried by man, because his ways are hidden from the senses of man save as he chooses to reveal them.]

  c 11 But they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.

  b 6 And the Pharisees went out, and straightway with the Herodians took counsel against him, how they might destroy him. [Here the three Synoptists first tell of the counsel to put Jesus to death, and we should note that, like John, they described the anger of the Jewish rulers as arising because of this Sabbath question. Their real motive was envious hatred, but their pretext was a zeal for the law. That it was not genuine zeal for the law is shown by the fact that they consulted with the Herodians or the adherents of Herod Antipas, as they also did afterwards ( Matthew 22:16 ; Mark 12:13 ). They needed the secular power of the Herodians to secure the death of Jesus. Its efficiency for such ends had just been shown in the imprisonment of John the Baptist. But the Herodians were no friends of the Jewish law; in fact, they were real perverters of that law which Jesus merely correctly interpreted. This party and its predecessors had flatteringly tried to make a Messiah of Herod the Great, and had been friends of Rome and patrons of Gentile influence. They favored the erection of temples for idolatrous ends, and pagan theaters and games, and Gentile customs generally. Unlike Jesus, the Pharisees grew angry and sinned, for it was against their conscience to consort with the Herodians.]