People were watching to see if Jesus would heal him [a man with a withered hand] on the sabbath, so they could frame a charge against him. [Standing before them with the man] he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath, or to do evil? To save life or to kill?” They stayed quiet. He was deeply upset at their hard-heartedness, and looked around at them angrily. [When Jesus healed the man] the Pharisees went out right away and began to plot with the Herodians against Jesus, trying to find a way to destroy him. (3:2-6, editing mine)
Wow! We are only three chapters into this story and the antagonists are already going for blood! Mess with power and you will feel the pain!
“They stayed quiet.” Of course they did. Side with the law and condone the neglect of the maimed? Or side with Jesus and de-value the law they held so dearly, too dearly, undermining their own power? Catch-22.
We use silence to hide. Inaction is an attempt to skirt the issue. Just don’t get involved and pass by on the other side of the road. The Pharisees knew this approach well (remember that Samaritan parable or “picture,” as Wright calls them, 3:23?).
I am convicted today by how Jesus sees a lack of compassion as “hard-heartedness.” Even when we feel like we have some good reason for it.