I was getting ready to move into the next section of our reading today and realized that I left the last verse off of yesterday’s reading. I thought about skipping verse 6 and just moving on, but that didn’t feel right. Then I thought about tagging it onto the front of today’s text. Then I felt led to stop and really look at this verse by itself instead. So that is what we are going to do today.
The Pharisees in yesterday’s story had been with Jesus for many hours. They were with Him and His disciples in the grain field. Then they were watching Him closely as He spoke in the synagogue. And they were extremely interested in what Jesus would, and did, do for the man with the withered hand.
I don’t know if this particular group resides in the town where Jesus is at today, probably Capernaum, or if they follow Him around. I would venture to say that, either way, this particular group has seen Jesus on more than one occasion. I will also GUARENTEE you that every time they have run up against Jesus; they came out on the short end of the stick. Jesus always put the religious leaders who challenged Him in their place.
Today, this group of Pharisees has been trying to catch Jesus in breaking the Sabbath. Certainly one of their favorite avenues of attack. First it is His disciples plucking the heads off the grain, and now it’s Jesus healing the man with the withered hand. They thought they had it all worked out when they got to the synagogue and saw the man with the withered hand in the congregation. They knew Jesus’ propensity to heal anyone in need. Now they would have front row seat as He did so. First hand testimony of Jesus breaking the Sabbath. Irrefutable proof that would stand up in any court of law.
But they didn’t count on Jesus blowing their plan to pieces! “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm. To save life or to kill?” (verse 4). You can nearly see the steam coming from the Pharisees’ ears. They are so mad they could chew nails and spit tacks! “He found a way around it AGAIN! Of course it’s permissible to do good, even on the Sabbath.”
As soon as synagogue service is concluded, the Pharisees cut out of there. They were so frustrated by how Jesus skirted their trap that they didn’t even bother following Him for the rest of the day, to try and catch Him “in the act” again. They sought out help, since they were obviously having trouble snaring Jesus alone.
The Pharisees decide to seek help from the Herodians. These two groups did NOT see eye to eye and did NOT get along with one another. But as everyone knows; the enemy of my enemy is my friend. They set aside their differences in this instance to pool their resources and go after Jesus.
The Pharisees held religious and political power. The Pharisees were the middle class businessmen. They held a minority number of positions in the Sanhedrin but often their policies were put into place over the Sadducee majority. They held firmly to the teachings of the Old Testament, or Torah, but also insisted on everyone following the traditions of the elders. They claimed Jesus broke these traditions MANY times. They also were committed to a free Israel.
The Herodians held political but not religious power. I have tried to find out where they hailed from in Jewish society but came up empty on that front. What I have learned is that they were a political party dedicated to seeing the Herod’s on the throne in Israel, and therefor were loyal to Rome. They also believed Herod to be the messiah.
These two groups shared no political or religious similarities; except one. Neither wanted Jesus as Messiah. The Pharisees were still waiting on theirs, while the Herodians believed it would be Herod. Also Herod wanted Jesus dead, just like the Pharisees.
We will see both these groups together a couple more times in our later reading. And they will both be engaged in trying to trap or discredit Jesus whenever we meet up with them. And best of all, they will fail, until Jesus is ready for them to “win.”
Father God, I get sidetracked sometimes trying to find out the “back story” or details of the people in our reading. I like knowing how we got to where we are now in the stories You have given us. Thank You for the experts that searched out all this information for me. I wouldn’t have a clue how to go about it on my own. Help me be discerning when searching through all that is out there. I don’t want to be led astray.
Thank You that, even with both groups combined, Jesus still is victorious whenever they meet. Until HE is ready, there is nothing they could do to Him. No matter how they tried to deny it, Jesus was, is, and always will be the Messiah. My Savior!