Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath.
I used to work as a manager in one of the UK’s most prestigious retailers. Some days I really enjoyed working there – I liked meeting the public, and my staff were a great bunch. I often felt, however, that the senior management in my store had it in for me. My boss made it absolutely clear to me that she didn’t like me when I first met her – an opinion formed solely on the basis of my CV and the paper work from my interview and assessment centre. Consequently, I felt that she and a couple of her friends in senior management were constantly watching me, desperate for me to make a mistake so that they make life difficult for me. It wasn’t a happy environment to work in, and I was relieved when we finally parted company.
By the time we get to chapter three in Mark’s gospel, Jesus is quite well known to the Pharisees. They have taken an instant dislike to him, since he challenges their perceptions of the world, their faith, and their God. They have built up a picture of God that they are happy with, and Jesus, with his tendency to heal people, expel demons, preach and allow his disciples to pick grain on the Sabbath, is not what they expect of their Messiah. Consequently, they are watching him even closer than ever. They are waiting for him to flout Jewish law so that they can come down on him hard, and get rid of this uncomfortable figure.
Jesus continues to challenge us today with the demands that he makes on our lives. Will you listen carefully to Jesus, study his words, observe his reactions, and accept the challenge he gives you? Or will you, like the Pharisees, look for any possible reason to reject him, and keep him out of your life?