so that they might accuse him.

It’s a delightful little sentence.

“They were watching him to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him.”

It’s using pronouns where we need nouns, of course, to give us context.

“[The Pharisees] were watching [Jesus] to see if [Jesus] would heal [the man whose hand was withered] on the Sabbath, so that [the Pharisees] might accuse [Jesus].”

That helps. A little.

I can do a little more, if you’d like.

“[The men who had devoted their lives to memorizing and studying and debating and discussing the law [which we know as the five books of Moses] and the prophets [which we know as a lot of the rest of the Old Testament] and the writings [which we know as the rest of the Old Testament] and had committed themselves to defending G-d’s honor in the face of heresy and blasphemy]

were watching

[the man who was called Jesus and who was doing healings and was forgiving people sins and seemed to be claiming to be G-d AND was getting a lot of popular attention at their [the Pharisees] expense]

to see if

[this challenger to their position and authority]

would heal

[a person who had done nothing wrong but was fundamentally hampered in the activities of daily living and was probably socially rejected]

on the

[day which was protected by law from working, but was also actually intended to be a day of rest],

so that

[the guardians of G-d]

might accuse


[of breaking the law that G-d had given them.]”

In the rest of the story, Jesus talks to the man, invites the Pharisees to converse rather than condemn, to explore what the teachings mean rather than wielding them as a weapon, gets frustrated at their intransigence, and then heals the man. The Pharisees leave and begin planning the demise of Jesus with their political competition.

It’s a strikingly familiar story, with one difference from many social media debates.

Because of the way Jesus worked, one man had the use of his hand back. One man, one family, had hope.