1 Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched Him closely to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
This is a very telling passage in the Gospel of Mark and has the title Jesus Heals on the Sabbath. Those in verse two looking for a reason to accuse Jesus were the Pharisees identified in verse six. A close reading would lead one to suspect they, the Pharisees, had brought the man with the shriveled hand into the synagogue on the Sabbath hoping Jesus would heal the man in violation of the Pharisaical laws; not God’s laws but laws dreamed up by the Pharisees that went beyond God’s laws.
Jesus looked around at them [the Pharisees] in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts. Then He healed the shriveled hand of the man, his hand was completely restored. What reaction would you have to such a miracle? You would know you were dealing with someone granted great healing power from God or at God himself. You would be awestruck knowing you have seen and witnessed something incredibly amazing.
That was not what the Pharisees did. No, they did not acknowledge God at all. Instead along with King Herod’s minions, they plotted how they might kill Jesus. It was no wonder Jesus was angry and deeply distressed. In fact, of all the Pharisees (an estimate of 6,000 in Jerusalem), there is only one who sought Jesus out and spoke to Him as a great teacher. His name was Nicodemus and we read about him in John chapter three where 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” He came at night so no one else would know!
Nicodemus knew, so we may assume others knew. Nonetheless, the chief priest and others plotted to kill Jesus. Why were their hearts so stubborn and hard? They wanted to maintain their positions so the chief priests and Pharisees said If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation and Caiaphas, the high priest, said know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish. John 11:48-50
So, bottom line, they – the Pharisees – put their desires ahead of and above that of God. They denied God and their Messiah, Jesus the Christ. I wonder how often we do the same?