25 August 2013

Luke 13:10-17

“But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the Sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, ‘There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the Sabbath day.’” (v. 14)


Here is another healing by Jesus and another criticism from the authorities.

Note that, at this stage in the story of Jesus, the leader of the synagogue was not prepared to tackle Jesus himself, but spoke to the people instead. Was he afraid of Jesus, or of the reaction of the people if he publicly attacked their hero? Or was it that he knew about the plotting and planning behind the scenes to trap Jesus into condemning himself by his own actions. Maybe this synagogue leader was helping to contribute to Jesus' entrapment?

We will never know, but what we do know is that Jesus was well aware of the reaction he would provoke by healing a sick woman in the synagogue on the Sabbath. We also know that this reaction was the least of his concerns. Here was a woman who had been crippled by her illness for years and his compassionate response was immediate (verse 12). Why should she suffer for another minute, when he knew that God's power could heal her?

So he turned the criticism back on itself (verses 15-17) and reminded the leader and people that if they were allowed to respond to the needs of an animal on the Sabbath, then why not a person in desperate need?

Rules are tools
to keep the unruly in line -
or that's the idea, at least.

Rules are restrictive, inactive, inflexible
and incapable of making allowances -
that's the idea of most of them.

Rules are meant to make fools
of those who disobey, and in that way
they also make the self-righteous smirk in satisfaction.

Rules give power to those
who tower over others in pious pomposity
and take time to tinker with tiny details
to demonstrate their dominance.

Rules rule life,
but rarely rule the heart that hurts
on behalf of all who hunger for healing and hope.

Restrictive religious rules were swept aside by Jesus,
who only set down two rules -
Love God -
and love your neighbour as you love yourself.

© Marjorie Dobson

To Ponder

  • How do you respond to criticism?
  • Some rules seem petty, or irrelevant. Which are the most important rules in your life of faith?

Bible notes author

Marjorie Dobson

Marjorie Dobson is a local preacher and a writer of hymns, prayers, poetry and short dramatic pieces for use in worship. She particularly enjoys writing character pieces - 'getting under the skin of the real person that hides in the shadows of a good story'.