He went on from there and entered their synagogue. And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him.
The Gospel According to Matthew (ESV)
The Pharisees were always looking for a way to trap Jesus. This time they wanted to see if they could accuse him of wrongdoing, by healing a man on the Sabbath. What a mindset these spiritual leaders had. Everyone is gathered at the synagogue for the Sabbath and yet these men are not focused on why they are gathered. They are focused on what they can do to get rid of Jesus. They are so wrapped up in legalities and how they can be used to their advantage they are blind to the purpose of their gathering. What a sad commentary, the Lord’s people are gathered to honor him and yet they are focused on ridiculing and accusing one who is modeling the very word of God. They are so wrapped up in being religiously right they don’t see the words they live by being lived out in their presence.
Ultimately the Pharisees, Sadducees and the religious leaders of Jesus day lost their place. The law they had distorted and misused so badly was done away with under the New Covenant in Jesus blood. The temple was destroyed, the genealogical records were destroyed and their rule ended.
Woe to those of us that behave this way today. Because, there are times when we too are blinded by jealousy and self righteousness. We too sometimes gather to worship with a critical eye on those around us. Looking to find fault in others rather than giving praise to the one due them. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16 (ESV) The Lord knows our hearts. We must know them as well.
The Pharisees knew the law, but they didn’t know God. They wanted to hold others to a list of rules and regulations without concern for the individual. Think about the man with the withered hand. He probably had been praying for healing for a long time and had suffered with loss of the use of his hand. He stood to benefit greatly from Jesus responding to him on the Sabbath. The Pharisees didn’t see the man, they saw an opportunity.
So today, let’s mind our hearts and the intentions of our hearts. Let’s not criticize those that do good. Let’s look for where good is needed and act on it. Let’s encourage good works in others. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” Hebrews (ESV) Let’s be servant hearted not hard hearted.
© 2013 Leo J. Woodman