Wednesday

02 November 2011

"Woman, you are set free from your ailment." (v. 12)

Background

The right use of the Sabbath was a continual controversy between Jesus and his opponents. There were strict laws about what could and could not be done on the Sabbath and while healing fulfilled the spirit and the purpose of the law it was called as 'work' and as such should not be accepted on the Sabbath. This healing of a long term complaint on the Sabbath is once more challenged by the leader of the synagogue who felt that she could have been healed on any other of the 6 days of the week. Jesus rebuked the hypocrisy of this approach by pointing out the Jewish practice of looking after animals. It was accepted that animals needed to be looked after on the Sabbath and so food and water was given to them. Surely they should have greater concern for the wellbeing of a woman and accept the healing from Jesus. In Jesus' day, the woman's ailments were seen to be caused by Satan who had trapped her into bondage: she needed to be set free by the power expressed through Jesus. We see Jesus' power over Satan and the reaction of both the woman and the people who turned to God to praise him. They recognised that something special had happened. But the leader of the synagogue, who should have been God's person, did not see anything of God in it.

This is a good passage to try and enter into in an imaginative way to feel something more of what was happening here. Spend a few minutes thinking about which character you would like to be. Would you be the woman who was healed, amazed at Jesus noticing her? The synagogue leader who was so concerned about rules that he missed God's action? Or a member of the crowd looking on in wonder? When you have decided then slowly read the passage again. Ask God to speak to you as you spend time with the story.

To Ponder

How do you react to the thought that the woman's illness was caused by Satan?

What do you think people today, including yourself, need to be 'set free' from?

Many people bemoan the fact that, for many people, Sunday in Britain is just another day. How do you react to that?

Bible notes author: Susan Johnson

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