Jesus exposes the hypocrisy of the Pharisees by posing a question to them with a practical example. It’s possible, since the text says they were watching to see if Jesus would heal on the Sabbath, that the scribes and Pharisees had set up this situation as a trap in the first place. But Jesus, with a single question, reverses it.
A man with a withered hand was at the synogogue where Jesus was teaching on this particular day. At some point, Jesus asks the man to stand up before the people with Him to be an object lesson. Jesus asks the audience, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or destroy it?” (v. 9) No one says anything, so Jesus tells the man to stretch his hand out, and it becomes healthy.
And the Pharisees are furious at Jesus. They see a miracle performed before their very eyes, but their pride deafens them to what Jesus is trying to say to them. It is more important for them to feel right than to be right. Notice, too, that Jesus did not frame His question as a choice between doing good and doing nothing. Failure to do good within your power is evil.
The Pharisees were probably also frustrated that they couldn’t even accuse Jesus of doing anything on the Sabbath. All He said was, “Stretch out your hand.” He didn’t lay a hand on him or do any obvious work. Jesus navigated the trap on multiple levels.
Help us see the good works we can do in Your Name, and help us have the humility and wisdom to accept reproof.