Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2
September 9, 2007
7 And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him.
8 But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth.
9 Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?
10 And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
11 And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.
1901 ASV Translation:
7 And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath; that they might find how to accuse him.
8 But he knew their thoughts; and he said to the man that had his hand withered, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth.
9 And Jesus said unto them, I ask you, Is it lawful on the sabbath to do good, or to do harm? to save a life, or to destroy it?
10 And he looked round about on them all, and said unto him, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored.
11 But they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.
- I. The Antagonism of the Scribes and Pharisees.
- A. Luke's record is that of a decision already made: the scribes and Pharisees had already determined to oppose Jesus.
- B. This antagonism makes rational thought impossible. Coiled vipers are not really open to reason.
- 1. The word translated "watched" means "intently observed" and has the idea of a focus that blocks out anything that might draw one's eyes away from the object.
- 2. The problem with this kind of "watching" is that it means that the watchers are no longer looking for Truth; they are simply looking for "evidence" so that they may pursue their agenda.
- C. The text says that their motivation is "...that they might find an accusation against Him...". The word used is tied to a descriptive title that Online Bible says was assigned to the devil by the rabbis and, interestingly, these so-called religious leaders were acting just like him.
- 1. It is fundamentally dishonest (i.e., "unrighteous") to "watch to accuse" when the foundations for accusation have not been established.
- 2. Jesus taught that "wisdom is justified by her children" and Gamaliel clearly understood this in Acts 5:34-39. This was the man under whom Paul studied (Acts 22:3) and who "had [a significant] reputation among all the people" (Acts 5:34). If the only things the Pharisees could find for accusation were the good works of a man who did them on the Sabbath, their "case" against him was exceedingly weak. Luke's point is just that: they did not have a good reason for their antagonism.
- II. Jesus' Counter-antagonism.
- A. He deliberately challenged them publicly and forced the issue by His "power".
- 1. This action was designed to confront their arrogance [Note Paul's warning in 1 Corinthians 4:19] and to humiliate them with their own stupidity. The bruising of the head of the serpent was not a mealy-mouthed, apologetic tap on the head.
- 2. The text does not say that Jesus "did" anything other than tell the man to stretch forth his hand. How much "work" is that?
- 3. The rage that erupted after He restored the man's hand is proof that they felt the humiliation.
- B. He also challenged their attitude with a deliberate question of "Sabbatical Law".
- 1. He forced them to deal with the fact that their own "interpretations" of the law of the Sabbath permitted actions that were both "good" and "harmful" if the circumstances called for them. The slaughter of soldiers on the Sabbath because they refused to fight on that day had forced the "interpreters" of the law to "allow" soldiers to "do harm" in order to protect themselves and those whose lives were under their authority. Jesus had asked all of those in that synagogue whether they would extricate their own sheep if they saw it in danger on the Sabbath. It was well established by law and practice that it was acceptable to do good and to do harm, to save a life or to destroy one, on the Sabbath.
- 2. His question forced a greater issue: if they could be so wrong about the "Sabbath", on what basis was anyone to have any confidence that they were "right" about the question of forgiveness?