Luke Chapters 12-13
OBSERVE: In chapter 13, we come across a story of Jesus healing a crippled woman on the Sabbath. This story is only found in the gospel of Luke:
On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath”.
The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her? When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing. (Luke 13: 10-17).
INTERPRET: The synagogue leader is not suggesting here that it is a bad idea for Jesus to heal the suffering woman. The issue that the synagogue leader has is the timing – being on the Sabbath day. The synagogue leader contends that healing on this day is violating the Sabbath because the healing requires “work”. Because the healing requires work it is therefore preventing the Sabbath day from being holy in his opinion.
The response of Jesus implies that it is not about what constitutes as work but rather it is about the kinds of activities and aims that truly reflect the purpose of the Sabbath. By pointing out that people rightly care for their livestock on the Sabbath, how much more should they have compassion on people on the Sabbath. Nothing in the law forbids the act of compassion. Rather, compassion upholds the foundational principles of the Sabbath laws which is rooted in God’s commitment to bring people out of bondage (Deuteronomy 5: 12-15).
APPLICATION: Although seen as a rebel by many; this was just another case of Jesus coming to fulfill the Law. Not only was Jesus the fulfillment of the Law, he lived out the Law to perfection. To Jesus, it was a good thing to set free a human being on the Sabbath in order to restore them. Although the Sabbath commandment was rooted in God’s commitment to free people out of bondage, the essence of this law was lost over time. The additional bridge rules and the enforcement of them overshadowed and blurred the real purpose of the Sabbath.
It is easy for us today to let rigid rules prevent us from acting in a compassionate way. We often miss the real purpose behind the rules which then puts up barriers. This story of Jesus on the Sabbath helps us to pause and reflect. Any rule that prevents us from acting with a compassionate heart should be deeply examined. Any rule that inhibits another from being restored needs a complete makeover; just like this example from Jesus.
REFLECTION: Have you embraced others with a compassionate heart the same way that Jesus has embraced you?
PRAYER: Lord of the Sabbath; give me a heart of compassion; give me hope for the lost. I ask for a deep passion for those who are broken. Enable me your beloved servant; to put your Word into action. AMEN.
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