understand the controversial issues between Yeshua (Jesus)
and the Pharisees in this study, it is necessary to look at
historical background as to how Pharisaic Judaism developed.
When the Jewish people returned from the Babylonian
Captivity, the spiritual leaders recognized that the reason
for the captivity had been disobedience to the Mosaic Law.
Ezra began a school called the School of the Sopherim, or
the School of the Scribes. Their plan was to go through each
of the 613 commandments God gave to Moses and expound them
to the Jewish people. Their thinking was that, by giving
them a clear knowledge of what the Law was and how to keep
it, they would not bring on another divine discipline like
the Babylonian Captivity.
When the first generation of the Sopherim passed away, the
second generation took the task more seriously. The second
generation said, “It is not enough for us to expound the
Law; we must build a fence around the Law.” The fence they
would build around the Law would consist of new rules and
regulations logically derived from the original 613
commandments. The principle they used was: a sopher may
disagree with a sopher, but he may not disagree with the
Torah, which was sacrosanct. Therefore, there was no basis
for denying the validity of that Law. In making these new
rules and regulations, they could disagree among themselves
until they reached a decision by majority vote. Once a
decision was reached, it became mandatory for all Jews
everywhere in the world to follow. This process of building
a fence around the Law began around 450 B.C. and finally
ended in 30 B.C. Normally, it passed from rabbi to rabbi.
The Sopherim is said to have lasted from Ezra the Scribe to
that of Hillel, at which point it came to an end.
Then came a second school of rabbis called the Tannaim,
meaning “teachers.” The Tannaim looked upon the work of the
Sopherim and declared, “There are still too many holes in
this fence.” They continued the process for a period of two
hundred and fifty years, from 30 B.C. until A.D. 220.
However, the principle of operation changed. The new
principle was: a tanna may disagree with a tanna, but he may
not disagree with a sopher. This meant that from 30 B.C. all
the thousands of rules and regulations passed down by the
Sopherim became sacrosanct and of equal validity with
In order to validate to the Jewish audience why the laws of
the Sopherim were equal to the laws of Moses, they came up
with a teaching that all Orthodox Jews believe and teach to
this very day. Their teaching was that what really happened
on Mount Sinai was that God gave Moses two laws: the Written
Law and the Oral Law. The first law is called the Written
Law because it contains the 613 commandments that Moses
actually penned in the Books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers,
and Deuteronomy. The second law is called the Oral Law
because Moses did not write down those commandments; he
memorized them all. By memory, they were passed down to
Joshua, who then passed them down to the Judges, who then
passed them down to the Prophets, who then passed them down
to the Sopherim. So the Sopherim did not really innovate all
these rules and regulations; they got them from the Prophets
who got them from the Judges, who got them from Joshua, who
got them from Moses, who got them from God. Indeed, from
about 450 B.C. until A.D. 220, these rules were never
written down. Key rabbis and scribes had them memorized, and
thousands and thousands of laws were kept strictly on the
basis of memory. They were not written down for about six
centuries. By A.D. 220, fewer and fewer people were around
to memorize all these laws, so they finally wrote them all
down at the order of Judah Ha-Nasi, the patriarch in the
Land. This ended the period of the Tannaim.
The work of the Sopherim and the Tannaim together is now
called the Mishnah. It is the Mishnah that became the cause
of controversy between Yeshua and the Pharisees. The
Pharisaic concept of the Messiah was that He would be a
Pharisee; He would be in submission to the laws of the
Mishnah; in fact, He would join them in the work of making
new laws to plug up the holes in the fence. A Messiah who
was not a Pharisee under the Mishnah’s authority could not
possibly be the true Messiah. Any time the terms Mishnaic
Law, Pharisaic Law, Rabbinic Law, or Oral Law are used, they
refer to the body of material now known as the Mishnah.
The Sabbath had become a major observance in Pharisaic
Judaism, to the point that it was personified as the Bride
of Israel and as Jehovah’s Queen. When the question was
raised, “Why did God create Israel?” the answer was, “God
made Israel to honor the Sabbath.” Therefore, Israel was
made for the Sabbath. While the Messiah and the Pharisees
debated over the authority of the Mishnah in general, one
specific area of debate was on the proper way of observing
This study of the three Sabbath controversies is divided
into three sections: the healing of a paralytic, the
controversy over grain, and the healing of a man with a
I. THE HEALING OF A PARALYTIC: JOHN 5:1-47
A. The Physical Healing: John 5:1-9
Verses 1-3 describe the scene:
things there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to
Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a
pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five
porches. In these lay a multitude of them that were sick,
blind, halt, withered.
As in verse 1, generally, if a feast is mentioned but not
specifically named, it would be the Feast of the Passover.
If this is the case, then this is the second Passover
mentioned in Yeshua’s public ministry, which was about a
year-and-a-half old. In verses 2-3, Jesus approached a man
at the Pool of Bethseda, a pool located in the Moslem
Quarter of the Old City that has been uncovered in recent
The three-step procedure Yeshua used in dealing with the man
is described in verses 5-9a:
| And a certain man was there,
who had been thirty and eight years in his infirmity. When
Jesus saw him lying, and knew that he had been now a long
time in that case, he said unto him, Would you be made
whole? The sick man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when
the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I
am coming, another steps down before me. Jesus said unto
him, Arise, take up your bed, and walk. And straightway the
man was made whole, and took up his bed and walked.
In the first step, He sought the man out. The man did not
come to Him because he could not do so on his own, nor was
he taken to Yeshua, as was the case in a previous instance.
In the second step, He did not demand any faith on the part
of the man. At this point in His public ministry, faith was
not necessary for a miracle to be received because the
purpose of His miracles was to authenticate His messianic
claims and to get them to believe. In the third step, there
was no revelation of His Messiahship. Initially, He did not
tell the man He claimed to be the Messiah. Later in verse
13, when the man was asked who had healed him, he said he
did not know who Jesus was or who He claimed to be.
In verse 5, Yeshua went to the Pool of Bethseda and saw a
man lying there who had been ailing for thirty-eight years.
In verse 6, Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be healed
and received a positive answer in verse 7. In verse 8, Jesus
told him to do something that went contrary to the Jewish
practice of that day. In verse 9a, the man was healed
John mentioned an additional detail in verse 9b:
Now it was
the sabbath on that day.
What Yeshua had asked the man to do was a breach of the
Pharisaic interpretation of keeping the Sabbath. Among the
fifteen hundred Sabbath rules was one that forbade a person
to carry a burden from a public place to a private place or
from a private place to a public place. Yeshua knew that
asking the man to pick up his bed would raise the issue
regarding His Messianic claims, but He wanted the people and
the leaders, in particular, to come to a decision concerning
B. The Spiritual Healing: John 5:10-18
After the man’s physical healing at the Pool
of Bethesda, he was quickly confronted in verse 10:
Jews said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath, and it
is not lawful for you to take up your bed.
The man was questioned further by the Pharisaic Jews in
|But he answered them, He that made me whole,
the same said unto me, Take up your bed, and walk. They
asked him, Who is the man that said unto you, Take up your
bed, and walk? But he that was healed knew not who it was;
for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in
The man’s response in verse 11 was that the One who had
healed him told him to do this. In verse 12, they asked him
who it was that healed him. In verse 13, the former
paralytic said he did not know.
The spiritual healing of the man is recorded in verses
|Afterward Jesus finds him in the temple, and said
unto him, Behold, you are made whole: sin no more, lest a
worse thing befall you. The man went away, and told the Jews
that it was Jesus who had made him whole.
In verse 14, after the healing, Jesus found the man again,
this time in the Temple where he was perhaps thanking God
for his healing and participating in the Temple festivities
of the feast. Yeshua told the man, “See, you are made whole;
do not sin any more, unless a worse thing befall you.” This
indicates the spiritual healing of the man. At that point,
he discovered who Jesus was, and he informed the others in
verse 15. There is no need to see anything sinister here.
Although the response of the hearers was negative, the
motive of the former paralytic may have been nothing more
than to give them the information they were seeking.
This incident led to two specific accusations against Yeshua
in verses 16-18. The first accusation came in verse 16:
for this cause the Jews persecuted Jesus, because he did
these things on the sabbath.
The first accusation was that He had healed someone on the
Sabbath day. This did not violate the Mosaic Law, but it did
break Pharisaic Law that forbade healing on the Sabbath day,
except in one situation, if there was a danger to life. As
long as the man’s life was not endangered, he should not
have been healed on this day. John stated that this was a
key reason why they persecuted Jesus.
Yeshua’s answer is given in verse 17:
But Jesus answered
them, My Father works even until now, and I work.
The second accusation came in verse 18:
| For this cause
therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he
not only broke the sabbath, but also called God his own
Father, making himself equal with God.
His answer brought on the second accusation. To a Jewish
audience, calling God His own unique Father meant He was
making Himself an equal with God. Cultic groups tend to deny
the deity of the Son, often on the basis that a son is less
than his father; therefore, if Yeshua is the Son of God, He
must be less than God. This was not true in Jewish
reckoning, because the firstborn son is considered to be
equal to the father. The real issue is what did the Jewish
audience understand Him to mean when they heard him speak?
When He stated, “My Father works . . . and I work," they clearly
understood that He was claiming to be equal with God. There
was no ambiguity to the Jewish mind what He was claiming.
C. The Messiah’s Defense: John 5:19-29
Jesus defended Himself by making four
specific points in verses 19-29. The first point of His
defense is given in verses 19-21:
|Jesus therefore answered
and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son
can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father
doing: for what things soever he does, these the Son also
does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows
him all things that himself does: and greater works than
these will he show him, that ye may marvel. For as the
Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son
also gives life to whom he will.
He was doing the works of the Father in three ways. First in
verse 19, He has an equal relationship with the Father; what
One does, the other does. The works of the Father are also
the works of the Son. If it is the work of the Son, it is
also the work of the Father. Secondly in verse 20, there is
also equal love between the Father and the Son; both give
rise to equally mighty works. Thirdly in verse 21, there is
equal power; the Son shares the Father’s power to give life.
The giving of life was a divine ability; therefore, He must
be divine. Because He does the works of the Father, works
that only God can do, it means that He must be God.
The second point of His defense was that the Son will judge
all men, according to verse 22-23:
|For neither does the
Father judge any man, but he has given all judgment unto the
Son; that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the
Father. He that honors not the Son honors not the Father
that sent him.
In the Old Testament, the final judgment is
the prerogative of God. If the Son is the One who will do
the judging, the Son must also be God. This also means the
Son has equal honor with the Father.
The third point of His defense was that He has the power to
provide eternal life, according to verse 24:
I say unto you, He that hears my word, and believes him that
sent me, has eternal life, and comes not into judgment, but
has passed out of death into life.
In the Old Testament, the One who has the ability to provide
eternal life is God. Therefore, if the Son has the power to
provide eternal life, He too must be God.
The fourth point of His defense was that He will be the One
to bring about the resurrection of the dead in verses 25-29:
|Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour comes, and now is,
when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and
they that hear shall live. For as the Father has life in
himself, even so gave he to the Son also to have life in
himself: and he gave him authority to execute judgment,
because he is a son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour
comes, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his
voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto
the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto
the resurrection of judgment.
In the Old Testament, only God brought about the
resurrection of the dead. If the Son is the One who will
raise the dead, it means He must also be God. Therefore,
Jesus is the God-Man, and both facets are stated here in
title form. In verse 25, He is the “Son of God,” emphasizing
His deity; in verse 27, He is a “son of man,” emphasizing
His humanity. Verse 29 points out that there will be two
distinct kinds of resurrections. For the believer, it will
be the “resurrection of life” or what the Book of Revelation
calls the “first resurrection” (Rev. 20:5). For the
unbeliever, it will be the “resurrection of judgment,” also
known as the second resurrection, which leads to “the second
death” (Rev. 21:8).
D. The Fourfold Witness to His Messianic Claims: John
I can of myself do nothing: as I hear, I
judge: and my judgment is righteous; because I seek not mine
own will, but the will of him that sent me. If I bear
witness of myself, my witness is not true. It is another
that bears witness of me; and I know that the witness which
he witnesses of me is true.
After He made these four claims to being the God-Man, Yeshua
then showed that there was a fourfold witness to His
Messianic claims. Why four? In the Law of Moses, two or
three witnesses were sufficient to establish a case. Yeshua
provided four, going beyond the demands of the Law.
The first witness was John the Baptist in verses 33-35:
have sent unto John, and he has borne witness unto the
truth. But the witness which I receive is not from man:
howbeit I say these things, that ye may be saved. He was the
lamp that burns and shines; and ye were willing to rejoice
for a season in his light.
It was John who identified Yeshua
as “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world”
The second witness was that His works, His miracles,
authenticated His claims in verse 36:
But the witness which
I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the
Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I do,
bear witness of me, that the Father has sent me.
The third witness was God the Father in verses 37-38:
the Father that sent me, he has borne witness of me. You
have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his form.
And you have not his word abiding in you: for whom he sent,
him you believe not.
God the Father spoke audibly at the Son’s baptism when He
declared out of Heaven, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am
well pleased” (Mat. 3:13-17; Mk. 1:9-11; Lk. 3:21).
The fourth witness was the Scriptures in verses 39-47. The
Scriptures bore witness because He was fulfilling the
prophecies of His First Coming in verse 39:
|You search the
scriptures, because ye think that in them you have eternal
life; and these are they which bear witness of me;
Because the Pharisees did not understand Scripture, they
failed to understand Him in verses 40-44:
| …and you will not
come to me, that ye may have life. I receive not glory from
men. But I know you, that you have not the love of God in
yourselves. I am come in my Father’s name, and you receive
me not: if another shall come in his own name, him you will
receive. How can you believe, who receive glory one of
another, and the glory that comes from the only God you seek
Because they did not understand Scripture, they did not have
the love of God; they sought the glory of men, not the glory
Therefore, the very Law of Moses on which they had set their
hope condemned them in verse 45: Think not that I will
accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuses you,
even Moses, on whom you have set your hope.
With four witnesses such as these, the problem was not that
there was a lack of testimony to His messianic claims.
Yeshua said that their real problem was their failure to
believe Moses in verses 46-47: For if you believed Moses,
you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you believe
not his writings, how shall you believe my words?
Accusing the Pharisees of not believing in Moses seems to be
a stretch. It would be like approaching an ultra-Orthodox
Jew today and saying, “You do not believe in the Mosaic
Law.” Who is more zealous for this Law? Yet it was a valid
accusation. The Pharisees believed in Mosaic Law as it had
been reinterpreted through the Mishnah. They did not believe
Moses “as it was written.” Had they accepted Mosaic Law as
it was written, they would not have failed to recognize that
He was the Messiah.
II. THE CONTROVERSY OVER GRAIN:
MATTHEW 12:1-8; MARK
2:23-28; LUKE 6:1-5
Luke 6:1-2 reads:
|Now it came to pass on a sabbath, that he was going through the grainfields; and his
disciples plucked the ears, and did eat, rubbing them in
their hands. But certain of the Pharisees said, Why do ye
that which it is not lawful to do on the sabbath day?
Verse 1 provides the historical background to this
controversy. Verse 2 records the Pharisees’ attack, which
occurred because the disciples had broken four of those
fifteen hundred rules and regulations. First, when they took
the wheat off the stalk, they were guilty of reaping.
Secondly, when they rubbed the wheat in their hands in order
to separate it from the chaff, they were guilty of
threshing. Thirdly, when they blew into their hands to blow
the chaff away, they were guilty of winnowing. Fourthly,
when they swallowed the wheat, they were guilty of storing
the wheat. This is how extreme the “building of the fence”
had become by this time.
Because of these rules, some Pharisees would not walk on the
grass on the Sabbath day. If someone asked such a rabbi,
“What is wrong with walking on the grass on the Sabbath
day,” his answer would be, “Nothing. It is permissible to
walk on the grass on the Sabbath day.” However, there is a
problem. What looks only like a grassy field might have one
stalk of wheat growing wild in it. A person walking through
the field of grass might inadvertently step on that one
stalk of wheat, separate the wheat from its stalk, and
become guilty of reaping on the Sabbath day. Furthermore, if
his foot came down and twisted the wheat just enough to
separate the wheat from the chaff, he would be guilty of
threshing on the Sabbath day. If he continued to walk, the
outer hem of his garment might cause just enough breeze to
blow the chaff away, and he would be guilty of winnowing on
the Sabbath day. Finally, once the person had gone, a bird
or rodent might see the exposed piece of wheat and swallow
it, causing him to be guilty of storing the wheat on the
Yeshua responded by making six statements. First,
He made an historical appeal to King David in verses 3-4:
answering them said, Have ye not read even this,
what David did, when he was hungry, he, and they
that were with him; how he entered into the house of
God, and took and ate the showbread, and gave also
to them that were with him; which it is not lawful
to eat save for the priests alone?
He pointed out that David also violated Pharisaic Law when
he ate the showbread. Moses never said that a Levite could
not give the showbread to a non-Levite. Pharisaic Law,
however, did say that. In the case of the Pharisees, they
could not claim that David lived before the Oral Law,
because in their theology, God gave the Oral Law to Moses;
therefore, it preceded the time of David. So David himself
broke Pharisaic Law, yet they never condemned David. If
David could break Pharisaic Law, so could David’s greater
Son (Mat. 12:3-4; Mk. 2:25-26).
Secondly, the Law of Sabbath Rest did not apply in every
situation, according to Matthew 12:5:
Or have ye not read in
the law, that on the sabbath day the priests in the temple
profane the sabbath, and are guiltless?
One such situation was the Temple Compound.
For those in the Temple Compound, it was not a day of rest,
but a day of labor. In fact, those in the Compound had to
work harder on the Sabbath day than a normal day. There were
daily sacrifices and rituals, but on the Sabbath, all
sacrifices were doubled. Furthermore, there were special
rituals performed only on the Sabbath. Therefore, the
Sabbath was not a day of rest for those working within the
Temple Compound. This shows that the Law of Moses allowed
and even commanded certain works to be done on the Sabbath
day. Even the Pharisees allowed certain works such as
midwifery, circumcision, and the preparation of a corpse on
the Sabbath day. The point was that the Law of Sabbath Rest
did not apply to every specific situation.
Thirdly, as the Messiah, He is greater than the Temple in
Matthew 12:6: But I say unto you, that one greater than the
temple is here.
If the Temple allowed certain works to be done on the
Sabbath without violating the Sabbath, so could He allow
certain works without breaking the Sabbath.
Fourthly, He pointed out that certain works were always
allowed on the Sabbath day as stated in Matthew 12:7:
ye had known what this means, I desire mercy, and not
sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.
Quoting Hosea 6:6, works of necessity such as eating, and
works of mercy such as healing were always allowed on the
Fifth, as the Messiah, He was the Lord of the Sabbath in
Luke 6:5: And he said unto them, The Son of man is lord of
As Lord of the Sabbath, He could allow what they disallowed,
and He could disallow what they allowed. As long as He did
not violate the Mosaic Law Himself, they had no grounds for
any accusation against Him (Mat. 12:8; Mk. 2:28).
And sixth, He declared that they had totally misconstrued
the purpose of the Sabbath in Mark 2:27: And he said unto
them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the
Pharisaic Judaism taught that the reason God made Israel was
for honoring the Sabbath. Therefore, Israel was made for the
Sabbath. Jesus, however, taught that the exact opposite was
true. Israel was not made for the Sabbath; the Sabbath was
made for Israel. The purpose of the Sabbath was to give
Israel a day of refreshment and rest, not to enslave Israel
to Sabbath Laws. Yet these fifteen hundred additional rules
and regulations had the effect of enslaving Jews to the
Sabbath. Therefore, they had totally misconstrued the
purpose of the Sabbath.
There have been similar problems in Church history. The
Church has misconstrued the Sabbath in two ways. The first
is by assuming that Sunday is the “new Sabbath.” Nowhere in
Scripture is Sunday ever called the Sabbath. The Sabbath
always is, always was, and always will be from sundown
Friday to sundown Saturday. Today, under the Law of the
Messiah, there is no obligation to keep the Sabbath; but the
day of the Sabbath has never changed. The Bible never calls
Sunday the Sabbath, nor does it call Sunday the Lord’s Day.
That is a “Christian Mishnah.” It is only by tradition that
Sunday is referred to as the “Lord’s Day.” In Scripture,
Sunday is always called “the first day of the week.” Not
only has the Church defined Sunday as the new Sabbath, it
has also begun to apply Sabbath rules and regulations to
Sunday that are not warranted. As a result in some circles,
Sunday has become the obligatory day of congregational
worship and the obligatory day of rest. Limiting ourselves
to the text of Scripture, believers are commanded to meet
corporately on a regular basis (Heb. 10:25). This is not an
option; it is a biblical command. However, the day of the
week is optional (Rom. 14:4- 11).
The second way the Church has misconstrued the Sabbath is by
insisting that the Sabbath is still a mandatory day of
worship. This is based on a misunderstanding of the Mosaic
purpose of the Sabbath. Moses said to stay home and rest on
the Sabbath, not have corporate worship on the Sabbath. The
Pharisees understood this, so as part of their building a
fence around this law, they declared that it was forbidden
for a person to walk more than a Sabbath day’s journey from
his home, two thousand cubits, equal to approximately a
kilometer or three-quarters of a mile. Therefore, a person
who gets up Saturday morning, starts his car engine, and
drives to church is breaking the Sabbath every week.
Rabbinic Judaism later made the Sabbath a day of corporate
worship; however, this was not its purpose according to the
Law of Moses. Furthermore, synagogues were located within
the two-thousand-cubit perimeter. Corporate worship under
the Mosaic Law was allowed only where the Tabernacle or
Temple stood, which ultimately became Jerusalem. Only those
living in Jerusalem could enjoy corporate worship every
Saturday, not those who lived in Galilee, which was a
three-day journey from Jerusalem. Pity the Galilean Jew if
he had to participate in corporate worship every Sabbath in
Jerusalem! He would have to walk up for three days to get
there in time for Sabbath worship, and then walk down three
days to get back to Galilee. Upon arriving in Galilee, he
would have to make a U-turn and walk up three days to get
back to Jerusalem for the next Sabbath. He would be walking
for six days instead of working for six days. For this
reason, the Law of Moses mandated corporate worship only
three times a year: the Feast of Passover, the Feast of
Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles.
III. THE HEALING OF A MAN WITH A WITHERED HAND:
12:9-14; MARK 3:1-6; LUKE 6:6-11
The third Sabbath controversy took place in
the synagogue. According to Luke’s account, Yeshua was
expounding the Word in verse. 6:
|And it came to pass on
another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and
taught: and there was a man there, and his right hand was
On that Sabbath, there was a man in the audience who
happened to have a withered hand. This was a medical
problem, but it was not life threatening. Again, Luke’s
profession becomes evident. Both Matthew’s account and
Mark’s account simply state that the man’s hand was
withered; however, Doctor Luke specifies it was his right
Verse 7 states: And the scribes and the Pharisees watched
him, whether he would heal on the sabbath; that they might
find how to accuse him.
It appears that the man was a plant for the purpose of
entrapment, because Matthew 12:10 states that members of the
audience asked, “Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?”
with the goal “that they might accuse him.”
Since this occurred during the Interrogation Stage, they
were still looking for a basis to accuse and reject Him.
Under the Sanhedrin laws of that day, if any kind of
messianic movement occurred, they had to investigate it in
two specific stages: the Observation Stage and the
Interrogation Stage. In the Observation Stage, a delegation
was sent out to do nothing but observe what was being said,
taught, and done. At this point, they could ask no
questions, they could raise no objections; they could not
verbalize anything. All they were allowed to do was observe.
After a period of observation, they were to return to
Jerusalem to give a report and issue a verdict as to whether
the movement was significant or insignificant. If they
declared the movement was insignificant, the whole matter
was dropped. However, if they said the movement was
significant, then the Interrogation Stage would begin. At this
point, a second delegation was sent out. This time, they
would ask questions, raise objections, and look for a basis
to either accept the person’s claims or reject them.
Jesus clearly understood what the circumstances were in
|But he knew their thoughts; and he said to the man
that had his hand withered, Rise up, and stand forth in the
midst. And he arose and stood forth.
Nevertheless, He again
showed that He would not accept their Pharisaic Mishnaic
He began by reminding them of their own particular practice
in Matthew’s account verses 11-12:
|And he said unto them,
What man shall there be of you, that shall have one sheep,
and if this fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not
lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man of
more value than a sheep! Wherefore it is lawful to do good
on the sabbath day.
This shows that even they believed that
it was permitted to do good on the Sabbath.
However, He challenged them with a question in Luke 6:9:
Jesus said unto them, I ask you, Is it lawful on the sabbath
to do good, or to do harm? to save a life, or to destroy it?
According to Mark 3:4, they chose to remain silent. He used
a type of argument called kal v’chomer, which argues from
the lesser to the greater. He stated that if it was
permissible to do good for an animal on the Sabbath day, the
lesser, how much more would it be permissible to do good for
a man on the Sabbath day, the greater? He repeated two
lessons previously mentioned: first, works of necessity and
works of mercy were allowed on the Sabbath day, even for
animals; and secondly, healing was an act of mercy;
therefore, it did not violate the Sabbath.
Having made His point, He proceeded to heal the man’s hand
in verse 10:
|And he looked round about on them all, and said
unto him, Stretch forth your hand. And he did so: and his
hand was restored.
By doing so, He again showed His negation of Pharisaic
authority. The wording of Mark 3:5 implies He did it to
spite them. The means of healing was merely by ordering the
man to stretch out his right hand, and he was immediately
healed. Yeshua did not ask the man if he believed or had
faith; at that point, faith was not essential. Although the
man himself was a plant, Jesus went ahead and healed him,
because at this point in His career, the purpose of His
miracles was to authenticate His messianic claims.
The Pharisaic response to this incident and to the Sabbath
controversies in general is given in verse 11:
But they were
filled with madness; and communed one with another what they
might do to Jesus.
Their response was threefold. First, in verse 11 they were
filled with madness. They let the emotion of anger control
them. They could no
longer think logically and rationally.
Secondly, according to Matthew 12:14:
But the Pharisees went
out, and took counsel against him, how they might destroy
They conspired how to be rid of him in one form or another
and how to reject His messianic claims, in spite of His
Thirdly, according to Mark 3:6: And the Pharisees went out,
and straightway with the Herodians took counsel against him,
how they might destroy him.
The Pharisees joined with the Herodians in
their conspiracy against Yeshua. This, indeed, made for
strange bedfellows, because they were at the opposite ends
of the political spectrum and bitter enemies toward each
other. The Pharisees were opposed to Roman rule in any form,
but the Herodians favored Roman rule if it came through the
House of Herod. Yet, on the issue of Jesus, they had a
If you enjoyed this Bible study, Dr. Fruchtenbaum recommends the
following messianic Bible studies (mbs):
mbs 009: The Trial of the Messiah
mbs 016: Nicodemus, A Rabbi's Quest
mbs 020: How Did the Wise Men Know? or Is Astrology Valid?
028: The Olivet Discourse
mbs 031: Highlights of the Birth and Early Life of Jesus
mbs 032: The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus
mbs 035: The Three Messianic Miracles
mbs 040: The Parables of the Kingdom
mbs 043: The Confession of Peter
mbs 044: The Transfiguration of Jesus
mbs 048: Mammon of Unrighteousness
mbs 049: The Adulterous Woman
mbs 056: The Triumphal Entry
mbs 060: The Upper Room Discourses
mbs 061: The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus
mbs 069: The Agony of Gethsemane
mbs 070: The Death and Burial of the Messiah
mbs 075: The Resurrection of the Messiah
mbs 076: The Ascension of the Messiah
mbs 094: The Sermon on the Mount
mbs 099: The Results of the Death of Messiah
mbs 127: The Birth and Early Life of the Messiah
mbs 134: How the New Testament Quotes the Old Testament
mbs 183: The Healing of the Man at the Pool of Bethesda:
mbs 185: Jesus and the Samaritan Woman: John 4:1-42
Many of Dr. Fruchtenbaum's studies are available for free online
listening at Ariel Ministries'
Come and See. All of his materials are
available for purchase at Ariel Ministries in various
Other select materials and resources are
available at Ariel, as well.
| Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Th.M, Ph.D,
is founder and director of Ariel Ministries.