It could be claimed that the Pharisees planted the man with the crippled hand to lure Jesus into breaking the Sabbath’s law against working on this day of rest. That is really not a concern because Jesus is going to use the opportunity to teach that truth and law are meant to free people in life and their worship of God, and not hinder people. God’s law is to help, to open up access for all people, to allow a relationship to develop between God and His people.
6:6 Jesus, as was His custom on the Sabbath, went to the synagogue to teach. Teaching involved reading scripture and explaining the text. In this account, Jesus is shown going beyond the reading by showing how Jesus interacts with people. He literally demonstrates His teaching.
The Pharisees were observing Jesus “closely”. They were not there to learn and enjoy. They were there to find fault. Of course, Jesus knows this, but He has a purpose. He asked the crippled man to “Come up and stand before us.” The poor man, because he was crippled, was probably sitting in the back with the women and children. Those in the back weren’t participating in the lessons; they only listened. But Jesus invites the crippled man to come up and participate in the teaching.
Once the man had risen, Jesus said to the Pharisees, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than do evil, to save life rather than destroy it?” The restoration of a withered hand would indicate the long hoped for restoration of Israel which the Messiah would bring. The way Jesus asked this question—either-or—you can either save a life or destroy it, reveals that there are only two options when it comes to helping the people and being part of the Kingdom of God. Help and you are in the Kingdom. To do nothing is to separate yourself from God. The Pharisees had always debated this law, among themselves. Here Jesus is teaching them the correct answer. People are more important than Jewish law.
Jesus “looked around at them all.” No one answered. Jesus healed the man. Because of the healing, the Pharisees “were enraged.”
This reveals that the Pharisees didn’t see the man. They saw a theological argument. They saw the Sabbath law broken. Worse, they missed seeing God at work. The Pharisees were so intent on catching Jesus breaking the Sabbath that they had closed their minds, eyes, and hearts from showing love and mercy towards another human being.
6:11 The passage ends with the Pharisees plotting evil.