Jesus Where We Need Him
This week’s text is Luke 13: 10-17. This sees Jesus healing a woman in the synagogue. The scandal here is that Jesus does this on the Sabbath! This is a great text to remind us that Jesus finds us where we need Him to find us. He meets us where we are. It is notable that Jesus sees a woman that the rest of the community has not noticed for 18 years.
Not only does Jesus notice her and meet her where she is, He gives her what she needs. Jesus proclaims her free from her ailment and lays hands on her to heal her. Also noteworthy, Jesus makes no judgement about her ailment. It was likely assumed that she had done something wrong to end up like this, but Jesus just accepts her as she is, without any such judgement. One of the salient points to this interaction is that while Jesus accepts the woman (and us) just as she is, He does not keep her (or us) as she is; she is changed, and so will we be, if we but trust Jesus.
There are two starkly different responses to what Jesus does here. The woman’s response is what we should all strive for. She responds with gratitude. After she is healed and so greatly changed, she began to praise God. She trusted Jesus and responds by proclaiming the good news. What simpler more powerful message do we need?
By contrast, the leader of the synagogue harshly criticizes Jesus for “working” on the Sabbath. He is claiming that there has been a “violation” of the law. He is clearly taking a picayune, petty view of the law to establish control over this situation and likely Jesus Himself. It is possible that this “leader” did not appreciate the fact that this itinerant Rabbi was teaching in his synagogue. Control and domination is the typical uses to which people put the law, especially when they get into technicalities. Jesus, of course, exposes these technicalities.
The synagogue leader has his chance in verse 14. In verse 15 it is Jesus’s turn. Jesus calls out the hypocrisy of this narrow view of the law. Jesus points out that people do work all the time on the Sabbath-like untying their donkeys and leading them to water. If they do this for an animal, how much more should they do for humans? Jesus pointedly reminds all assembled that this woman is indeed a daughter of Abraham, and therefore a member of the community, ailments and all (a reminder of how we are to view those with special needs).
We have already learned in Mark 2: 27-28 that the “Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath”, and that “”the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath”. Since we know this, we can see that Jesus’ response in calling out the leader’s hypocrisy is to establish His claim to Lordship. Remember, that Jesus is Lord, is the good news (the Gospel). That is what this woman trusted and believed, and she was made whole and then went about praising God in response.
The thing we all need to remember, and that too many have forgotten is that this Gospel (good news) is not to be turned into another form of the law. It is this misuse of the law that was so evident in the leader’s response that Jesus came to rectify. The law was not meant to be used as a justification for control by the religious leaders and swung like a hammer in the direction of all who “violated” it and to be used mercilessly to ignore those in the community who need help.
Since we have Jesus as Lord and Savior, we can see that the law is to serve as a reminder when we screw up. This reminder should turn us to the amazingly good news that Jesus is Lord and that He finds us where we are and gives us what we need, which is healing and forgiveness, things we cannot give ourselves. This restoration and the faith that Jesus gives us is to then be turned outward toward the world in a response that praises God in all we think, say, and do. That is to say, once we believe, we obey.
Praise Be to God