Not answering – Mark 3:4

Jesus said “Is this a day to save life or to destroy it? But they wouldn’t answer him” (Mk 3:4)
There’s a time to stay silent, to not respond, to refuse to answer. There’s a time to be quiet… (Ecclesiastes 3:7). And often we get it wrong. We speak when we’d have done much better to stay silent, but we can’t resist making ‘that comment’. Prompted by pride we fail to restrain our tongues, and often regret it later.
But not always. When Jesus asks a question of us we do well to try to answer, however weakly. Because in challenging us with a question Jesus is presenting us with a chance to grow, to learn, to change. And to refuse to answer, to stubbornly remain silent (as the Pharisees did) not only betrays a hard heart, it solidifies that hard-heartedness. For some who were watching Jesus, as he encountered the man with the deformed hand, this was a pivotal moment. They could have responded to his question, and acknowledged (perhaps sheepishly) that their petty Sabbath regulations had led them to an absurd position. But their pride wouldn’t allow them. So they refused to answer, and their refusal hardened them – with deadly consequences.
Hardness-of-heart is always what develops when we refuse to answer Jesus when he addresses us. “Today, when you hear his voice, don’t harden you hearts…” (Heb 3:7)