Another Sabbath Confrontation
Let us remember that, throughout the Gospels, Jesus is in direct confrontation with the Sanhedrin. As Messiah, Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. The Sanhedrin thought that the Messiah should be serving and keeping the Mishnah. It is this conflict between God’s Law and man’s commentary on Gods Law, which provides us the context for many of the events in the life of Jesus our Messiah.
Please read Matthew 12:9-14, Mark 3:1-6 and Luke 6:6-11. As you will recall, the Sanhedrin honored the Sabbath day as the Queen. Their mindset was that God made man so man could honor the Sabbath. In other words, man was made for the Sabbath as opposed to the truth that the Sabbath was made for man. Also, remember that the Mishnah contained approximately 1,500 Sabbatical laws designed to protect the Jewish person from breaking God’s one Sabbatical Law. God’s one Sabbatical law was designed to give man rest and to provide him with freedom. The Mishnah’s 1,500 were designed to box man in and constrict his life, movement and behavior so he would not dishonor the Sabbath.
Here, in these three passages, we have the record of another sabbath confrontation between Jesus and the Sanhedrin. This confrontation is designed by the Sanhedrin. At this point in the ministry of Jesus, the Sanhedrin is fully engaged with Jesus and they are intensifying their investigation of His claim to be the Messiah. They know that they will need to render a decision about Jesus on behalf of the nation. The religious leaders believed that the Messiah would honor the Mishnaic rules of the Sabbath.
From Matthew in particular, it appears that a man with a withered hand was planted in the synagogue where Jesus was on this Sabbath day. It seems as if the Sanhedrin placed him, in that service, specifically to see what Jesus would do. “Would Jesus heal the man on the Sabbath”? This was their question. If Jesus heals the man on the Sabbath, He will be breaking the Mishnah and invalidating His claim to be the Messiah.
As we have discussed previously, Jesus always kept the law of Moses. This was the only way He could fulfill the Law of Moses. A Law breaker could not also be a Law fulfiller. Jesus was not a Law breaker. Indeed, Jesus was THE Law Fulfiller.
The Mishnah? A different story. That was man’s commentary and law. Jesus was not here to protect or fulfill the Mishnah. The bottom line was that the Mishnah was an obstruction to the people. The Mishnah was the fence which made it hard for the people to see, know and understand the Torah (God’s Law).
Jesus knew what was happening. He knew why the Sanhedrin was with Him in the synagogue service and He knew why the man with the withered hand was there. Jesus asked the religious leaders if it was right or wrong to do good on the Sabbath. Can one save his sheep from a pit on the sabbath? Of course it was right to do good on the Sabbath. Of course one could and should save his sheep on the Sabbath. In other words, acts of Mercy were permissible on the Sabbath.
While the Sanhedrin was watching Jesus closely, He called the man forward and healed his withered hand.
One side note here: Jesus did not ask the man to have faith. Later in the life of Christ and after the Sanhedrin has decided to reject Jesus as the Messiah, usually faith will be required for a Jewish person in order for Jesus to heal him. At this point and prior to the Sanhedrin decision, Jesus is still performing public miracles to validate His Messianic claim.
When Jesus healed this man’s withered hand, He broke the Mishnah. Plain and simple. This action enraged the religious leaders. Mark tells us that, as a result, the Pharisees and Herodians began to conspire together as to how they might destroy Jesus. They are thinking that Jesus clearly is not the Messiah. Nevertheless, He is garnering lots of attention and many followers. We need to be rid of this Man.
Before this event, the Pharisees and Herodians were bitter enemies. The Pharisees opposed Roman rule of any sort. The Herodians favored Roman rule, especially if it came through the house of King Herod. Brethren. The Pharisees, Sadducees and Herodians were religious leaders. Take note of that word...Religious. Religion kills. It can come in many forms and it might not be in some formal manner, but it kills.
In contrast, Christ is Life. Let us walk in the newness of the Life of Christ and may God use us to save those who are dying in a sea of religion.