This passage contains two stories of events occurring on the Sabbath which result in conflict to point where the Pharisees begin to plot against Jesus. In the first one (6:1-5) the disciples were eating grain they had plucked along their way, prompting some Pharisees to ask why they were violating the law of the Sabbath. Remember that the Pharisees have constructed hundreds of oral regulations to define “work” for the Sabbath and in their very strict construction of the term, plucking a bit of grain from a plant was work, while walking for miles was not.
Jesus in His reply to their question reminded them of an incident in which David violated their laws to feed his men from consecrated bread that could only be eaten by priests, with the very clear implication that God didn’t view the Law quite so strictly as they did, declaring that He was “Lord of the Sabbath” indicating to them that He was qualified to decide what was really permissible independent of their oral traditions. Naturally, the Pharisees weren’t amused.
In the second part of the passage (6:6 ff.) Jesus is speaking in the synagogue on another Sabbath and a man was present with a “withered” hand. The Pharisees in attendance, who had just about had their fill of Jesus, were waiting attentively to see if He would heal the man on the Sabbath so they could make an issue of it. Knowing this, Jesus invited the man to stand up front in view of everyone, and posed a legal question: “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” (6:9)
Jesus told the man to stretch out his hand, and lo and behold it was restored. The Pharisees were furious, but what could they say? All Jesus did was ask the man to hold his hand!
The plotting began then and there; they had to do something to this Jesus guy, for He wasn’t going along with their program.