Is It Lawful

The preaching was good news. Like Yochanan the Immerser (John the Baptizer) before Him, multitudes gathered to hear Him teach the Kingdom. But unlike Yochanan, those who came to Yeshua were healed.

A man with a withered hand was in the synagogue on the Sabbath. Yeshua was there, as were the authorities who were monitoring and observing what Yeshua would do.

"So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him" (Mark 3:2)

The synagogue authorities had heard reports of people who had been healed by Yeshua. They had heard the eye-witness accounts, questioned those who were reliable sources, and had confirmed that the reports of healing were true.

Inside the synagogue, they watched with eagerness wondering whether Yeshua would heal the man with a withered hand on the Sabbath.

Remarkably, the authorities display great faith. Their objection is not whether or not He will heal, but rather will He heal, today, on the Sabbath? Healing was not the issue. The concern was whether it will happen on the holy day. They know He can, but as far as they are concerned He can heal on any day of the week, except the Sabbath. They know He was capable of healing they just didn't want Him doing it on the Sabbath.

Yeshua's reply is typically rabbinic endeavouring to teach the path of righteousness.

"Then He said to them, 'Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?' But they kept silent" (Mark 3:4)

Yeshua does not dismiss their concern for Sabbath-breaking, but rather adds further weight to the importance and purpose of the Sabbath.

Clearly, Yeshua's intention was not to abolish Sabbath observance.

In another setting, these learned men would have agreed wholeheartedly that the Sabbath is for doing good, and for saving life, but in this situation they could not because of the hardness of their hearts, and sadly, they remained silent.

"And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts. He said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other." (Mark 3:5)

Sadly, there was no clapping of hands, no joyful noise unto the LORD, no praising God, just plotting against Yeshua by the Pharisees and the Herodians.

However, when they heard the message and the reports of healing people came from as far away as Tyre and Sidon. "And a great multitude from Galilee followed Him, and from Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and beyond the Jordan; and those from Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they heard how many things He was doing, came to Him . . . For He healed many, so that as many as had affliction pressed about Him to touch Him. And the unclean spirits, whenever they saw Him, fell down before Him and cried out, saying, 'You are the Son of God.' But He sternly warned them that they should not make Him known." (Mark 3:7-12)

The scene was perhaps chaotic, possibly unruly, to see so many who had been healed, and to hear the shouts of joy, people leaping, singing and praising God – this was the salvation they had been longing for – the kingdom of God was breaking out among His people.

But the crowd, the assembling of so many, surrounding, just one man, and listening to Him intently would not be favourably looked on by the Roman authorities. Indeed, many were calling Him the Messiah. Such a gathering could pose a threat to the status quo, and eventually, attracting unnecessary attention from the Gentile rulers who were quick to stop political rivals or potential rebels.

No doubt, the Jewish leaders would be dragged before the Roman authorities to give an account, a reason to justify such a gathering. What would they say? "It's ok, it's the Messiah . . . yeh, He's arrived, finally . . . yes, that's right the One our holy prophets spoke about . . . well, yes, that does mean you won't be ruling any more but hey, look on the bright side . . . we will be . . . (sheepish grin)."

The crowd was unusually joined. "Then the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread." (Mark 3:20) This would pose a serious threat; something had to be done.

It would appear that the religious authorities attempted to disperse the crowd by persuading members of Yeshua's local community to convince Him to return home.

"But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, 'He is out of His mind.'" (Mark 3:21) Perhaps they feared some backlash because He was from their hometown, or they may have been motivated to be more proactive after hearing what the authorities from Jerusalem had concluded in regards to the matter of this "wild" man from the Galilee.

"And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, 'He has Beelzebub,' and 'By the ruler of demons He casts out demons.'" (Mark 3:22) That should have settled the matter, and everyone should have gone home, but when the kingdom is advancing, well, there's just no stopping it!

"So He called them to Himself and said to them in parables, 'How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand but has an end.'" (Mark 3:23-26)

The Messiah was pointing to the fact that the kingdom of God had arrived, advancing in victory! It was Satan's kingdom that was being defeated. People were being released out of the kingdom of darkness and being brought into the kingdom of God.

What the officials had seen and heard was a growing and advancing kingdom of God. The faithful witness to this truth was the many, the multitudes, the crowds of people who had come to hear the good news of the kingdom being preached, and the subsequent large numbers of people who had been healed. The multitudes indicated a growing, victorious kingdom of God, not a failed, bickering, defeated kingdom.

Significantly, it must be noted that the Spirit of God had accomplished this "kingdom work" in the lives of the multitudes therefore the consequence of attributing His work to the power of Satan is dangerous, as indeed Yeshua warned.

"Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation." (Mark 3:28-29)

Finally, Yeshua's family arrived. Unable to speak to Him because of the large crowd, they sent word to Him. "And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him 'Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You.'"

His mother and brothers were not opposed to what He was doing. Perhaps they were concerned for Him after hearing the reports of the crowds. Or perhaps they feared for His safety because they had heard that the authorities were unfavourable towards Him. For whatever reason, they were motivated to come and see for themselves, and to seek clarification. They were not surprised by His response.

Then Yeshua replying to those who were sitting around Him, and who had informed Him that His mother and brothers had arrived, He began to teach them.

"But He answered them, saying, 'Who is My mother, or my brothers?' And He looked around in the circle of those who sat about Him, and said, 'Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.'" (Mark 3:34-35)

Everything was fine, the kingdom was on track. The Spirit of God was working in the hearts of the Jewish people, and the kingdom was advancing.

As another Jewish eye-witness reported of those days, "Go tell Yochanan (the Immerser) the things which you hear and see: 'The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the good news preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.'" (Matthew 11:4-6)

Yeshua the Messiah came preaching the good news of the kingdom, and many were healed. May there be many in our day who are blessed because of Him.