The Gospel of Mark: a commentary & meditation 
"Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm?"

Scripture: Mark 3:1-6

1 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2 And they watched him, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man who had the withered hand, "Come here." 4 And he said to them, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?" But they were silent. 5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out, and immediately held counsel with the Hero'di-ans against him, how to destroy him.

Meditation: What is God's intention for the commandment, keep holy the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8; Deut. 5:12)? The scribes and Pharisees wanted to catch Jesus in the act of breaking the Sabbath ritual so they might accuse him of breaking God's law.  In a few penetrating words Luke records that Jesus knew their thoughts.  They were filled with fury and contempt for Jesus because they put their own thoughts of right and wrong above God.  They were ensnared in their own legalism because they did not understand or see the purpose of God.  Jesus shows their fallacy by pointing to God's intention for the Sabbath: to do good and to save life rather than to do evil or to destroy life.  Christians celebrate Sunday as the Lord's Day, to commemorate God's work of redemption in Jesus Christ and the new work of creation he accomplished through Christ's death and resurrection. Taking "our sabbath rest" is a way of expressing honor to God for all that he has done for us.  Such "rest" however does not exempt us from our love for our neighbor.  If we truly love the Lord above all else, then the love of God will overflow to love of neighbor as well. Do you honor the Lord in the way you celebrate Sunday, the Lord's Day and in the way you treat you neighbor?

"Lord, in your victory over sin and death on the cross and in your resurrection you give us the assurance of sharing in the eternal rest of heaven. Transform my heart with your love that I may freely serve my neighbor for his good and find joy and refreshment in the celebration of Sunday as the Lord's Day."

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 (c) 2000 Don Schwager