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Introduction
-Jesus repeatedly comes into conflict with
those Jews who are in a position of In the case of the man with
authority, namely the Pharisees. the withered hand, the
-Mark really focuses on these conflicts and Pharisees are setting Jesus up
we are asked to look at just 3 occasions in to get him into trouble!
which Jesus finds himself either challenging
Pharisees
others or being challenged. In most cases,
*The Pharisees were the largest group of Jews
one leads to the other. around in Jesus's time. Their main aim was to keep
-In the first story we look at, Jesus's disciples the laws of Moses, which were written in the Torah
are told off for `working' on the Sabbath, (the first 5 books of the Bible).
which goes against the Law. *They tried to make sure the laws of the Torah were
-In the second story, Jesus is presented with always kept by `making a fence around the Law'.
a man who has a minor ailment on the This meant they had extra rules to make sure they
Sabbath, to see if he will go ahead and heal did not break the original laws by accident.
him (also forbidden on the Sabbath). *Mark and the other gospel writers are rather hard
-In the last story we look at, Jesus's disciples on the Pharisees as they demonstrate how Jesus
are challenged by the Pharisees and the repeatedly comes into conflict with them.
scribes (teachers of the law) because they *What is useful to know is that many Pharisees did
accept Jesus; it is just that Mark doesn't really talk
have not washed their hands after touching
about them!
gentiles (non-Jews) or other things
The scribes or `teachers of the law'
considered `unclean' by tradition.
Their main job is to teach the Torah and advise
-In each case, Jesus turns the conflict on its
people on what the scriptures would tell them to do
head by pointing out his opponents' in certain circumstances.
hypocrisy.…read more

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Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:23-28)
23
One Sabbath Jesus was going through
the grainfields, and as his disciples walked
along, they began to pick some heads of
grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, "Look,
why are they doing what is unlawful on the
Sabbath?" 25 He answered, "Have you
never read what David did when he and his
companions were hungry and in need? 26
In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he
Reme
entered the house of God and ate the
mber th consecrated bread, which is lawful only for
passa is Bible
ge! priests to eat. And he also gave some to his
companions."
27
Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was
made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28
So the Son of Man is Lord even of the
Sabbath."…read more

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Context and Importance
· The Sabbath day was an extremely quiet, still day in the time of Jesus. People were terrified of doing
anything that could be considered breaking the law; even dragging a chair across an earthen floor could
be considered `ploughing' or a needle carried in a coat could be considered `sewing' (both expressly
forbidden on the Sabbath by the law of Moses!)
· Followers of certain Jewish rabbis (teachers of the law) even argued that to eat an egg that had been laid
on the Sabbath was forbidden because the hen had `worked' laying it!
· So when the disciples picked ears of corn, rubbed off the husks in their hands and ate the corn, they were
apparently `reaping and threshing' on the Sabbath day. The Pharisees therefore accused Jesus's disciples
of farm `working' on the Sabbath. Jesus himself here is not accused, only his disciples, but it is interesting
to see that he defends them.
· Jesus reminded them about what David did. When he was escaping from King Saul, David and his men
went into the holy place at Nob. He and his men ate the bread that God intended only for the priests.
This bread was called `the bread of the Lord's presence'. That meant that it showed that God was there.
Twelve loaves for the 12 tribes of Israel's people were a sign of God's provision of their food. Every rest
day, the priests put new loaves on the special table. It was `holy' bread. So the priests were the only
people whom the law allowed to eat the old loaves (Leviticus 24:5-9). But because David and his men
were hungry, their need was more important than the law. Here Jesus is effectively saying that human
need is more important than the law.
· God gave the rest day to make life better for everyone. It existed in order to give people rest for their
body. It was also a special opportunity to worship God. God did not create man to become the slaves of
all kinds of rules. Jesus implied that the Pharisees were changing God's law. They were not allowing
people to have the help that God intended. `Son of Man' means human but it might mean Jesus himself
here. He was the Messiah who came from the family line of king David. If David could take no notice of a
law for a good reason, Jesus could take no notice of men's traditions.…read more

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The man with the withered hand (Mark 3:1-6)
1
Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a
shrivelled 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 shrivelled 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. Rememb
er this
5 Bible pas
He looked around at them in sage!
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.…read more

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Context and Importance
· The law allowed for very urgent cases to be healed on the Sabbath but this was not an
urgent case
· The Pharisees probably set Jesus up in this scenario; tired of being humiliated and
challenged by him, they wanted to catch him out
· Jesus's response is disbelief and anger, that the Pharisees are going to use the man as
a way to oppose Jesus. They are showing no love towards a man who needs their
sympathy.
· This line is especially powerful: "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do
evil, to save life or to kill?" But they remained silent. Here Jesus is openly challenging
the Pharisees (and others in the synagogue) to declare their real priorities here and
now. Their silence speaks volumes- they really do care more about the law than life but
of course they could never have said the word "evil" in response.
· Jesus heals the man's withered hand and this, of course, is exactly what the Pharisees
were looking for. But now, rather than just be shocked and annoyed, they have also
been made to look foolish and Jesus's enemies are looking for Jesus's death.
· The `Herodians' are only mentioned in Mark's gospel, referring to supporters of Herod
Antipas, ruler over Galilee and son of Herod the Great (who killed the babies when
Jesus was born). Traditionally the Herodians and Pharisees are enemies but here we see
them united in their hatred of Jesus, which just goes to show how threatened by him
they feel.…read more

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