9 Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue.
10 And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him.
11 Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?
12 Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
13 Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other.
14 Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.
This account also appears in Mark 3:1-6 and Luke 6:6-10. Luke 6:6 indicates that this took place on a different Sabbath than the events of Matthew 12:1-8.
There is nothing in the Old Testament law against healing on the Sabbath, but the Pharisees considered healing to be work.
He had read their evil thoughts, and by His answer He had shown that He anticipated the question they now put to Him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” Awful motive, which stands alongside of the question, showing the depths of Satan “that they might accuse Him.” The question also discloses the fact that they believed in His healing power. — Gaebelein, page 241.
Here is a small matter needing careful attention. He did not say, If a man see a sheep; but if he have one. He said, If your sheep fall into the pit you rescue it, and you rescue it because it is yours. “How much then is a man of more value than a sheep?” You own sheep and care for them and rescue them.
Now the Son of Man is claiming not the Sabbath, but the man. Now the Son of Man is not only saying that He is Lord of the Sabbath, but that He is Owner of the man. That man belongs to Me. I am here to rescue him, and to set him free from the limitation of the evil that is in the world. You know full well, you men that criticize, that you would violate the Sabbath and be guiltless in saving your sheep, because it is yours. Understand, for evermore, that the supreme work of the Sabbath is that of reaching man and saving him. — Morgan, page 127
The Pharisees responded in several ways.
First, they were furious with Christ (Luke 6:11). They were infuriated because Christ had publicly humiliated them by His devastating arguments and had shown how untenable their whole tradition was.
Second, they began to plot His death (Matthew 12:14). They wanted to kill the One who rejected their traditions.
Third, they entered into an alliance with the Herodians, who were their enemies, and they solicited their support in attempts to kill Jesus (Mark 3:6). They were determined that He must die.
The Sabbath controversy, then, marked an important development. The opposition of the Pharisees was no longer veiled but open. They were determined to put Him to death and were soliciting help from other parties in the nation to accomplish their goal. — Pentecost, page 168.