And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” 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. 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. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. Mark 3:1-6
Those Pharisees. They’re hung up on the rules.
Rules make us feel safe. Or at least we think they will. We think that following the rules will keep us from harm. Of course, sometimes they do. Looking both ways at the crosswalk, etc. But when we forsake a greater wisdom for adherence to rules, we stop being human.
We still kill people for failing to follow the rules we contrive.
As in the previous chapters of Mark, Jesus is trying to show the Pharisees that they — that we all — are called to a greater fidelity. Not worship of rules, but worship of love, of life itself. Fidelity to our basic goodness, and the basic goodness of others. Fidelity to kindness. Allegiance to compassion.