Healing a man on the Sabbath.
Parallel passages at Mk 3:1-6 and Lk 6:6-11.
v.9 Having had the confrontation with the Pharisees in the grain field, Jesus went into their synagogue. Jesus frequently taught in the Jew’s synagogues on the Sabbath.
v.10 Trying to trap Jesus, the Pharisees asked him if it was lawful to work by healing on the Sabbath, there was a man present with a withered hand (probably paralyzed/shrunk). The Pharisees’ rule was that healing was permitted on the Sabbath only if life was in danger. The rule, of course, had in mind doctors coming to do work and not miraculous healing. Their rule went beyond what was required in God’s law. Healing on the Sabbath was a common source of conflict with the religious authorities (see e.g., Jn 5:7-9). The Pharisees didn’t care about the poor man’s withered hand, only that their rules were followed in the smallest detail.
v.11–12 Jesus reply’s with the illustration of a sheep falling into a pit (or ravine) on the Sabbath. Would they not work to free their sheep? Of course they would. A man is much more valuable than the sheep and so it is therefore permissible (lawful) to do good by healing the man on the Sabbath.
v.13 Jesus commanded the man to stretch out his hand; when he did his hand was completely restored and made whole.
v.14 This infuriated the Pharisees, and they plotted how they might kill Jesus. The law would of course prohibit such activity.
For Christians, following Mt 11:28-30 is our fulfilment of the Sabbath requirements (rest in Jesus).