Then Jesus said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent. – Mark 3:4
The man that Jesus called forward was, according to some scholars, possibly a stone mason, and his injury was one caused by accident from his professional trade. In his current state, his livelihood was gone and could have been reduced to beg, if not for Jesus.
The Pharisees are watching Jesus. Others came to the synagogue to listen to Jesus and learn from him. And the Pharisees? What was their motive? They were watching him for a reason to accuse him.
As Jesus entered the synagogue, He noticed the man with the shriveled arm, and the Pharisees looking on. He knew that to heal the man who was not mortally wounded would break the law regarding rest on the Sabbath, as we read in Leviticus today. He makes a decision, calls the man forward where he would be noticed by all, and poses a two-part question:
First – is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil?
The Pharisees would have to affirm that it is lawful to do good to another on the sabbath. To do evil would be unthinkable.
Second – is it lawful to save life rather than to destroy it?
The Pharisees are trapped. They know that, although the man’s wounded hand is not a life-threatening injury that could wait until the next day, it has threatened the man’s livelihood. Knowing Jesus wants to do good would restore life to the man, in a sense. The Pharisees would also be very aware of the thoughts in their own minds; they who sought a way to bring Jesus’ life to an end.
With the restoration of the man’s hand, Jesus not only does good on the sabbath, but he saves the man’s life by restoring his capacity to earn a living. The Pharisees were silenced because they were plotting how to get rid of Jesus, to destroy life.
What else is surprising is, after the healing could not the Pharisees see that Jesus was the real deal? Were their hearts so hardened that could not believe?
Let us ask the Lord to give us open hearts to see his working in our lives, and turn to him and follow his example of charity and mercy.
May God bless you!