On this particular occasion, the Pharisees were at the synagogue ready to entrap Jesus for His use of the Sabbath. When He came to the man with the withered hand, they watched and waited, suggesting that the Pharisees expected Christ to intervene and heal the man. They resolved that no matter what He did, they would find fault with it, to use it as the ground of an accusation before the local tribunal. The rabbis allowed Sabbath healing in cases of life and death, but a withered hand did not meet the criteria.
From the beginning, the scribes and Pharisees had persistently opposed Christ’s teachings because He exposed their hypocrisy, lessening their esteem and influence among the people. Jesus knew of their animosity toward Him even before they began to hinder His work. As the word “watch” implies, they were spying on Him, scrutinizing every move He made. Their hypocrisy was obvious.
Christians should not expect to fare any better—in fact, we should count it all joy (James 1:2) because the “sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared” with the coming glory (Romans 8:18). In trying to uphold righteous standards, Christians are often watched by a suspicious and spiteful world. Jesus says, “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. . . . But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. . . . They hated Me without a cause” (John 15:20-21, 25).
In order never to give the enemies of Christ a reason to blaspheme, our lives must be sterling examples of God’s way of life. The Father gave Jesus a full measure of the Holy Spirit, empowering Him with the discernment and ability to know people’s hearts. We need to rein in our thoughts and bring them under control. Every day a vast number of vain and worldly imaginations pass through the average person’s mind. Others never notice them, but God does. Nothing is hidden from Him.