Luke 6:9

ESV And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?”
NIV Then Jesus said to them, 'I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?'
NASB And Jesus said to them, 'I ask you whether it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do harm, to save a life or to destroy it?'
CSB Then Jesus said to them, "I ask you: Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it? "
NLT Then Jesus said to his critics, 'I have a question for you. Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?'
KJV Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?

What does Luke 6:9 mean?

Pharisees have thirty-nine extra-scriptural laws about the Sabbath with countless applications. Healing a man's withered hand is certainly not covered. So, when a man with a withered hand is in the presence of Jesus, the Pharisees see their chance. Breaking the Sabbath is a capital offense (Exodus 31:14). This could work in their favor.

Jesus knows that the Pharisees' law states one may save a life, but not intentionally take steps to heal someone. He also knows this application is not found in the Mosaic law given by God. If it is allowable to save a life, why wouldn't it be allowable to heal? It doesn't matter if the man's condition is chronic, or if the Pharisees would approve of the healing taking place a few hours later. Why not do good now? Not only is it harmful to allow this man to suffer more than necessary, but it's also harmful to use someone's suffering to test a political or cultural enemy.

Jesus is tying together His attitude toward the man with the Pharisees' attitude toward Him. "Good" is from the root word agathos, related to agape: self-sacrificial love that attends to the good of another. Unlike the Pharisees, Jesus relates "good" with saving a life. "Harm" means actions which are immoral or incorrect. Jesus isn't talking about the man with the withered hand, here. He's talking about the Pharisees. They are doing evil by planning to destroy His life (Mark 3:6) on the Sabbath. They are not only working, but they are also plotting a murder during the Sabbath day they claim to revere.

The Pharisees' reaction is even more ironic considering Luke 5:33–39. Unlike Jesus' disciples, the Pharisees fast regularly as a sign of piety and devotion. But God has said He's not that concerned about people fasting from food. He'd rather they free people of their oppressive yokes (Isaiah 58:6). A withered hand definitely applies.
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