James Alison - Mark 3:1-6

Gospel: Mark 3:1-6

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3And he said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Come forward.’ 4Then 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. 5He 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. 6The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

... when he criticizes the scribes and pharisees it is, once again, not part of a new proposal that he is making in the light of which they look foolish. His concern about them is that in them, Israel is falling short of what it should have been from the beginning. Hence, in places it is suggested that they are Egyptians, who are holding up the real Exodus of God's people. This is done with particular subtlety at Mark 3:1-6. There the way in which Moses placed before the people of Israel the choice between good and evil (Dt 30:15), the way in which God took Israel out of Egypt with mighty arm and outstretched hand, and Pharaoh's hardness of heart, are all recalled in the incident of the cure of the man with a withered hand (which becomes outstretched) despite the hardness of the heart of the Pharisees, who did not understand the choice on the sabbath between doing good or evil, and went out to seek to destroy Jesus... (James Alison The Joy of Being Wrong, pp85)



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