Judgement Without Mercy

“Then he went back in the meeting place where he found a man with a crippled hand.  The Pharisees had their eyes on Jesus to see if he would heal him, hoping to catch him in a Sabbath infraction.  He said to the man with the crippled hand, ‘Stand here where we can see you.’ Then he spoke to the people: ‘What kind of action suits the Sabbath best?  Doing good or doing evil?  Helping people or leaving them helpless?’  No one said a word.  He looked them in the eye, one after another, angry now, furious at their hard-nosed religion.  He said to the man, ‘Hold out your hand.’  He held it out – it was as good as new!  The Pharisees got out as fast as they could, sputtering about how they would join forces with Herod’s followers and ruin him.” – Mark 3:1-6

drowning-2049247__480Jesus didn’t need to ask the man to stand where everyone could see him, so that they could witness the healing take place.  As a matter of fact, it was a little risky since the Pharisees were watching him, and waiting for him to break their religious laws.  And the text indicates that the Pharisees weren’t just mildly upset by Jesus’ ways, but that they had very strong feelings about stopping him in his tracks.  Jesus pointed out to them that they were holding so tightly to their religious laws that they were oppressing the very people the laws were meant to serve.  He asked a very basic question, “What kind of action suits the Sabbath best?  Doing good or doing evil?”  The Pharisees had become so focused on following their religious rules that love and mercy were no longer considerations when making judgement calls.  They had crowded them out, and their hearts had become hard.  It’s a good reminder to us as we come upon situations where we can either choose to pass immediate judgement or seek to know God’s view of the circumstances.

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