Focal Passage: Luke
In this, the third of five
stories in our series on Jesus and His critics, a miracle occurs. The story
begins with Jesus teaching in one of the synagogues, “and a woman was there who
had been crippled by a spirit for 18 years. She was bent over and could not
straighten up at all” (Luke 13:11).
I believe there is something
significant about the length of the woman’s deformity.
We designate 18 years as the
proper amount of time for a child to mature into an adult in our society.
At age 18, a person is old
enough to be independent, and is his or her own separate entity.
A long-term illness or
deformity can mature into an entity that takes on a life of its own and
controls a person. I once worked with a woman who suffered daily “visits” from
“Arthur” (severe arthritis). For her, “Arthur” had become an independent living
entity that controlled her life.
Our text tells us, “When
Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, ‘Woman, you are set free
from your infirmity’” (Luke 13:12). Jesus then touched her.
As she was healed, she
immediately began to praise God.
The picture appears to be
perfect. Jesus is in the synagogue, a place of worship. A woman is healed. She
who was bent is now straightened up in the house of the Lord!
However, once the leader of
the synagogue saw that the woman was healed, he became upset. He told the people
there that the Sabbath was not a day for healing.
Healing was considered to be
work, and work was prohibited on the Sabbath. To the leader of the synagogue
this woman could have waited for one more day to be healed. For him, there was
no sense of urgency — piety was seen as more important than pity.
Most people categorize
something based on how it affects them directly. It is amazing how the amount
we benefit from a particular situation controls our sense of urgency.
Martin Luther King Jr. wrote
a piece entitled, Why We Can’t Wait.
In it he noted that those
who would not benefit from Civil Rights legislation felt change was moving too
quickly, while the African-American people felt change was happening too
Keeping the rules was of
utmost importance to the Pharisee. Freeing the oppressed and healing the sick
was important to Jesus (Luke 4:18-19). Jesus was rebuked in the synagogue. How
well would He be received in our churches today?