On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7 And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. 8 But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. 9 And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” 10 And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. 11 But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus. —Luke 6:6-11
The expression “filled with fury” is literally “filled with a lack of sense.” That is, they are so angry that they can’t think straight. And indeed, they are not thinking straight. They think the point of the Sabbath is, “Don’t work.” But not working on the Sabbath was never the goal; it was a means to an end. The point of the Sabbath is: “Rest in God! Believe Him! Follow Him! Rest in His Savior!”
Do you remember how Jesus summarizes the Law? He says that the entire Law depends, or hangs, on two commands:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39
So the Sabbath Law depends on these commands. That is, the Sabbath Law helps us to love God and love man.
Now, think: Is their implementation of the Sabbath Law helping them love God or man? Quite the contrary. They keep the external form of the Law – and have no mercy on the man with a withered hand. They don’t violate their own Sabbath regulations – yet they hate Jesus and begin the plot that will end in His murder. They righteously state that they are upholding the Law when in fact they are violating its very essence.
How do we fall into this trap?
Consider: You can stay away from every gross sin; you can do religious acts – attend services, walk the aisle, be baptized, take the Lord’s supper, fast, attend prayer meetings – and all of that will be of absolutely no value unless you know the true Messiah, the true Savior.