v 6. At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus.
Sabbath-keeping was again the basis of complaints about Jesus. These avid rule keepers were blind to the good things Jesus was doing but well-focussed on their own ideas about how the Sabbath should be observed. You sense Jesus’ heartache when Mark writes ‘He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. ‘ How hard it must have been for Him to see His acts of compassionate healing criticised and judged as wrong. The hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders is extraordinary! They did not want to answer Jesus’ direct question in verse 4, ‘Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it? ‘ The honest answer is glaringly obvious, but to say it out loud would have been to undermine their own authority.
This then is the root of the matter – they wanted to remain in control and retain their role as the authoritative teachers of Jewish traditions. Jesus was seen as a threat to their status; right and wrong was not the issue but status was, and Jesus was not to be allowed to disturb that.
In recording this story Mark is again asserting Jesus’ right as Lord of Life. To be a follower of Jesus involves submitting to Him as Lord. I served for a while in the RAF, and understood that in ‘signing on’ I was handing over some of my rights to self-determination. I was from that moment under orders; senior officers could send me anywhere and order me to undertake whatever role they saw fit. In a very real sense, I was no longer in control of my own destiny; I had let go of self-interest in order to serve a different purpose. In becoming a follower of Jesus I had to do much the same, I submitted to Jesus as Lord, and trusted Him to direct my life as He saw fit. It was a major shift of focus away from being self-centred to having Jesus as my Commander-in-Chief.
These Pharisees wanted to be in control of circumstances and so were unwilling to accept what Jesus was teaching and doing. They would not let go of control and that prevented them from seeing the good that Jesus was doing. Instead, they focussed on what they had taught as ‘proper’ Sabbath observance.
Jesus saw through their selfish, controlling outlook on life; so we see Him
persecuted as a Man like no other in confronting hypocrisy.