On the one hand, the reading astonishes me. I have a hard time imagining how human beings seeing such a wondrous sign could retreat behind technical rules and use that as a reason to condemn to death the man who was performing such a sign.
But the more I think about it, the less it astonishes me. Of all of the sins that plague us, pride may be one of the most common and among the worst. I know I battle it constantly. It is so easy – almost reflexive – to lash out against someone who criticizes us without bothering to consider whether the other person actually has a point. It’s hard, so very hard, for me to admit that perhaps I was wrong, or that someone else’s idea is better than mine. It’s harder yet when the other person is someone with whom I have a difficult personal relationship.
Although an extreme illustration, the Pharisees’ actions were brought on by sinful pride. They were exalted citizens of their time and then along came Jesus of humble origins to upstage and embarrass them. Instead of thinking about the deeper significance of a man who could do such things, they see red because their pride is wounded. It’s easy for us to do the same thing; to ignore the small signs and instead focus on how important we are. It’s a common human mistake, but often a tragic one.
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