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NPNF1-06. St. Augustine: Sermon on the Mount; Harmony of the Gospels; Homilies on the Gospels
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Chapter XXXV.—Of the Man with the Withered Hand, Who Was Restored on the Sabbath-Day; And of the Question as to How Matthew’s Narrative of This Incident Can Be Harmonized with Those of Mark and Luke, Either in the Matter of the Order of Events, or in the Report of the Words Spoken by the Lord and by the Jews.

82. Matthew continues his account thus: “And when He was departed thence, He went into their synagogue: and, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered;” and so on, down to the words, “And it was restored whole, like as the other.”10031003     Matt. xii. 9–13. The restoring of this man who had the withered hand is also not passed over in silence by Mark and Luke.10041004     Mark iii. 1–5; Luke vi. 6–10. Now, the circumstance that this day is also designated a Sabbath might possibly lead us to suppose that both the plucking of the ears of corn and the healing of this man took place on the same day, were it not that Luke has made it plain that it was on a different Sabbath that the cure of the withered hand was wrought. Accordingly, when Matthew says, “And when He was departed thence, He came into their synagogue,” the words do indeed import that the said coming did not take place until after He had departed from the previously mentioned locality; but, at the same time, they leave the question undecided as to the number of days which may have elapsed between His passing from the aforesaid corn-field and His coming into their synagogue; and they express nothing as to His going there in direct and immediate succession. And thus space is offered us for getting in the narrative of Luke, who tells us that it was on another Sabbath that this man’s hand was restored. But it is possible that a difficulty may be felt in the circumstance that Matthew has told us how the people put this question to the Lord, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath-day?” wishing thereby to find an occasion for accusing Him; and that in reply He set before them the parable of the sheep in these terms: “What man shall there be among you that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the Sabbath-day, will he not lay hold on it and lift it out? How much, then, is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath-days;”10051005     Matt. xii. 10–12. whereas Mark and Luke rather represent the people to have had this question put to them by the Lord, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath-day, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?”10061006     Mark iii. 4; Luke vi. 9. We solve this difficulty, however, by the supposition that the people in the first instance asked the Lord, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath-day?” that thereupon, knowing the thoughts of the men who were thus seeking an occasion for accusing Him, He set the man whom He had been on the point of healing in their midst, and addressed to them the interrogations which Mark and Luke mention to have been put; that, as they remained silent, He next put before them the parable of the sheep, and drew the conclusion that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath-day; and that, finally, when He had looked round about on them with anger, as Mark tells us, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch forth thine hand.”


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