29 May 2012

Luke 13:10-17

"When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, 'Woman, you are set free from your ailment.' When he laid his hands on her, immediately stood up straight and began praising God." (v. 12-13)


In today's passage, Jesus encounters an opportunity that was eighteen years in the making and opposition from an unlikely quarter: the religious leaders.

At this point in his life, Jesus' ability to teach in the synagogue was no longer making the headlines; it was almost expected. So if you had been fortunate or minded to have turned up on this particular Sabbath, you would have found him doing what he did best; teaching with awareness. He was conscious of his purpose and time-limited opportunity, but also an acutely aware of those gathered.

Amongst the crowd was a woman whose illness prevented her from standing up straight. We don't know her name or if she had been to the synagogue before, whether she arrived late or had made a scene. But we do know that on this particular day Jesus noticed her, recognised the opportunity and seamlessly broke off from the 'set text' to respond her need for wholeness. Jesus called out to her, and you could say that that call was the beginning of her healing, because the text says that Jesus laid his hands on her and she stood up immediately (verses 12-13).

Can you imagine her relief? She could barely contain her gratitude, but that euphoric moment was almost short-lived as a t-crossing and i-dotting religious leader proceeded to paraphrase the Torah (the Jewish law) about the Sabbath (verse 14). What did Jesus do? Times for his silence would come, but this was one of those occasions when Jesus did answer, not with disrespect but with directness (verses 15-16). His answer provided clarification and celebration, and was a stark reminder of the freedom that humanity was created for, but which the law in itself would not achieve.

Jesus risked being thrown out of the synagogue for anti-Sabbath behaviour, but for this woman it would have been worth it!

To Ponder

What opportunities are there for you to call out to someone who is experiencing difficult?

Jesus did good in the face of opposition. What lessons can you learn from his example?

How do you celebrate what God has done and is doing?

Bible notes author

The Revd Katei Kirby

The Revd Katei Kirby is currently heading up the Belonging Together project in the Connexional Team. This initiative celebrates the Methodist Church's ethnic diversity, and seeks to embed this at all levels of the Church's life and ministry of the Church.