Now [Jesus] was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.
Luke 13:10-17 tells one of the many healing stories about Jesus. Not surprisingly, it is Luke’s account that shares it. Luke, the physician, the healer, often made note of Christ’s amazing ability to free people from physical and mental afflictions.
Here Jesus has done something terrible in the eyes of the synagogue leader – He healed a woman on the Sabbath! Just this morning, one of my Bible readings was about the manna given to God’s people in the wilderness, with strict instructions about gathering enough to eat for each day but on the 6th day gathering two days’ worth of food. God’s people were commanded by Him to rest on the Sabbath day, even from providing themselves with the sustenance of life. I’m sure that the leader in this passage was thinking of that very command as he frowned upon the healing work of Christ.
Yet what does Jesus tie His healing work to? Not to the gathering of food, but to the consumption of it. God’s command was to abstain from gathering food, but He did not command His people to fast on the Sabbath. Rather, they were to feed themselves. If we look at Sabbath rest as being one of total rest, then we should be hooking ourselves up to IV’s for nourishment the day before. That way we don’t have to lift a fork to our lips!
Can’t you just see Jesus rolling His eyes as He calls His enemies hypocrites? And He reminds them that this woman has suffered for eighteen years, and that she is one of God’s people – a daughter of Abraham and Sarah. It reminds me of the Narnia books where humans are called Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve. Perhaps this is where C.S. Lewis got the idea in the first place…
Oh, the joy the woman must have felt. The people rejoiced at the work of Jesus, and I’m sure she did too. But there is a joy that simply comes from being healed. So often we take our physical health for granted. It’s not until we experience a bought of illness or pain that we notice how wonderful it is to be healthy. But the joy that comes when we begin to feel better is unmatched. I think it’s a tiny taste of heaven, where all pain and suffering will be removed for good. Praise the Lord!