Luke 13:10-16 – (similar to #16 – Matthew 12:11-12) On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 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. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.
14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”
15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 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?” NIV
Once again Jesus is confronted with the opportunity to heal someone on the Sabbath which had been declared as “work” by those whose religion had been primarily defined by rule keeping instead of loving God and loving others as oneself. When Jesus saw her, he acted immediately by calling her forward and freeing her from her infirmity! One would think that the whole synagogue would have broken out in praise; but no! The synagogue ruler shut things down with a rebuke: “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”
Jesus did not silently let this go. He shot back by calling His critics hypocrites! He proceeded to ask them a set of two rhetorical questions:
- “Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?” Why sure they did! Not a person in the room would let a valuable animal die from thirst by denying it water on the Sabbath.
- “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?” One would suppose that everyone in the room would yell, “Yes, set her free! Set her free!” They probably would have except that it was the Sabbath, and the rule makers and keepers had their definition of Sabbath keeping … evidently not God’s from Jesus’ actions.
Jesus had from the beginning of His ministry reiterated the Old Testament principle that humans were made in the image of God and given dominion over animals and therefore to be given more consideration than the birds or animals for which God also cared and valued (see Questions #4 & #16).
Jesus seems to indicate that He expects more from His followers that man-made rule keeping where loving God and loving others is concerned. In Matthew 25, Jesus makes it clear that when something is done for “the least of these” it is as if it was done to God.
Some questions to consider: Are there places in my walk with Jesus where I am following tradition or man-made rules or interpretation of Scripture and not showing love to God or others? Are there times when I have more concern and take better care of my pets than people? Does society or do I place more value on new born animals than unborn humans?