Today we are reading from Mark 3: 1-6:
Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2 They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” 4 Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 He looked around at them with anger; he was 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 conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
One of the things that I believe, when I study history, particularly Jewish history, is that we misunderstand who the Pharisees were. We think of them as bad people. They really weren’t. When you look at the history of the people, you see they actually had good intentions.
Throughout the Old Testament, the people repeatedly broke the covenant of God to the point they were sent into exile. At that time, the Pharisees emerged, and they said this. If we ever get back home, we are keeping the commands. We are following the Law. We will not fail God. We will get it right this time. So, their job was to make sure the people followed the Law. They wanted to make sure they got it right.
To honor God. They really did want to honor God. But they became so focused on the Law, that they missed God. They missed God’s very presence in front of them because they were focused on the wrong thing. God in the flesh was there, and they missed it.
And today we see the great danger. Jesus performed a miracle. He healed someone. And instead of celebrating the work of God, what did they do? They hardened their hearts. Jesus didn’t do the way that they thought He should. Instead of being open to what God was doing, they hardened their hearts.
We want to follow God today. We want to serve Him. Let us, who are seeking after God, be very careful. We face the same danger. We could harden our hearts against others, especially those who we want to judge. Instead of loving folks, we begin to harden our hearts against them. Then instead of pointing them to Jesus, we are angry, or bitter, or upset at that.
Hardening your heart is the great danger of faith, sometimes. That is what happened to the Pharassess. Let’s not make the same mistake today.
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