11th Sunday after Pentecost | August 25, 2019
10 One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, 11 he saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!” 13 Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!
14 But the leader in charge of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath day. “There are six days of the week for working,” he said to the crowd. “Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath.”
15 But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water? 16 This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?”
17 This shamed his enemies, but all the people rejoiced at the wonderful things he did.
Luke 13:10-17 New Living Translation (NLT)
One of the things that caused Jesus trouble on many occasions was healing on the Sabbath. Each of the gospel writers includes at least one instance. Today we have Luke’s account of Jesus healing a woman who had been bent over double for eighteen years. That’s a long time. Jesus was teaching in the synagogue and noticed the woman. She didn’t come to Jesus for help, but Jesus noticed her and without her asking immediately heals her – first with his voice and then by his touch. What was her response? She praised God. There were probably many others who were also praising God along with this woman, but there’s a critic in every crowd. This time it happened to be the synagogue leader. He chastises Jesus for healing the woman on the Sabbath.
Jesus responds back and asks, (in my paraphrase), “What’s so wrong about healing on the Sabbath?” He makes the point that the leader watered his animals on the Sabbath. That took some work to do that and yet healing this woman was considered work – delivering this woman from the hands of Satan was work. Jesus in effect says, “What better day than to release her from the hand of Satan than on the day that I created for worship.”
It sounds like that silenced the enemies quickly. Jesus had compassion on the woman and while it wasn’t something normally done on the Sabbath, he went ahead and did it anyway – after all, he was the Lord of the Sabbath. In another healing episode, Jesus asks was the Sabbath made for man or man made for the Sabbath? We need to remember that the Sabbath was indeed made for rest from work, but it was also a day to worship God. Tomorrow morning we will gather for worship. It’s important to remember that despite everything else – Sunday or the Sabbath is a day for worship and rest. You could also say that is a day – more than any other – for compassion. If you see someone in need on the Sabbath, what a better way to worship God than to help them out. It’s what Jesus would do.