PassageThis passage starts with Jesus teaching in the synagogue, on the Sabbath, when he sees a woman who’s been crippled for almost twenty years. Seemingly without a second thought, he heals her, and she glorifies God for it. At this point, something expected happens, followed by something unexpected:
- Expected: The ruler of the synagogue tries to chasten the people for coming to be healed on the Sabbath. There are six days for that, he says, but they shouldn’t be doing so on the Sabbath. (I feel doubly sorry for the woman at this point, because there’s no indication that she had even sought out the healing in the first place—from what I see in the passage, she was just there, and it was Jesus, not her, who initiated the healing. But I think she’s bearing the brunt of the synagogue ruler’s anger, since he doesn’t feel up to calling out Jesus…)
- Unexpected: Jesus claps back at the synagogue ruler: “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?” (verses 15–16 (ESV)) What’s unexpected is that Jesus’ adversaries actually feel shame at Jesus’ words! I get so used to Jesus’ words falling on deaf ears, when it comes to the Jewish religious leaders, that this instance almost warms my heart.
ThoughtsI mentioned some thoughts above on the story of Jesus’ healing of the woman, so I don’t have much to add here. It’s worth pointing out here, though—even though I’m sure I’ve pointed it out any other time I’ve talked about Jesus healing on the Sabbath—that Jesus wasn’t actually breaking any Old Testament commandments, rules, stipulations, or statutes. There was nothing in the Scriptures that would prevent someone from healing on the Sabbath. This rule was something that the religious leaders of Jesus’ day had added, in an effort to clarify what was meant by “work,” when interpreting the Old Testament laws about not working on the Sabbath. You can see by Jesus’ words how hypocritical the rules had become, however; they didn’t like the fact that Jesus was healing a human woman, but there rules would allow them to take care of their animals. To his credit, however, the ruler of the synagogue apparently sees this hypocrisy when it’s pointed out to him; not every religious leader who came up against Jesus could say the same.
On an unrelated point, I probably shouldn’t be using phrases like “clapped back,” since it’s a slang term that I don’t expect to have a long life. It won’t be long before someone is reading this post and wondering what in the world I’m talking about with that phrase. But I’m so desperate to prove that I’m cool that I just couldn’t help myself…