Today’s passage deals with a very controversial topic. It deals with how we as followers of Christ ought to respond to those who are in need in our society. And here is what today’s passage says.
As he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath, a woman was there who had been disabled by a spirit for over eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called out to her, “Woman, you are free of your disability.” Then he laid his hands on her, and instantly she was restored and began to glorify God.
But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, responded by telling the crowd, “There are six days when work should be done; therefore come on those days and be healed and not on the Sabbath day.”
But the Lord answered him and said, “Hypocrites! Doesn’t each one of you untie his ox or donkey from the feeding trough on the Sabbath and lead it to water? Satan has bound this woman, a daughter of Abraham, for eighteen years—shouldn’t she be untied from this bondage on the Sabbath day?”
When he had said these things, all his adversaries were humiliated, but the whole crowd was rejoicing over all the glorious things he was doing.—Luke 13:10-17 (CSB)
The woman that Jesus healed here had severe curvature of the spine, that was caused somehow by a demon (or an evil spirit). Jesus’ healing involved two acts: (1) the casting out of the demon and (2) the straightening of the spine. However, this passage does not imply that deformities or illnesses are commonly caused by demons, which means that this was apparently a very rare case, reflective of the heightened spiritual warfare during the time of Christ’s earthly stay.
Now that we know the background of what has just happened let’s take a look at how the religious leaders responded to this necessary miracle. The religious leaders rejected this healing because it was “work” done in violation of the Sabbath day. Jesus then used the plural hypocrites to show that he knew the religious leaders spoke for many others who shared their views. Jesus revealed their hypocrisy by showing that is was necessary for everyone to do some work on the Sabbath, notably related to the tending of farm animals. The question that the religious leaders should have asked themselves is this: Should not a jewish woman under bondage to Satan for such a long time also be “untied” on the Sabbath?
According to Jesus, it is a most serious offense against God when we refuse to recognize and respond to suffering people. Jesus teaches that people imprisoned by sin, sickness and spiritual death are in distress and great need. Today, we are in serious danger of becoming unconcerned and insensitive to the world’s misery and suffering—particularly spiritually. While many people and organizations appear to be more involved than ever in charitable causes and humanitarian efforts, the media continues to pollute the culture with images of immorality and violence as a form of entertainment. As a result, the general society is deceived into thinking that they are alright, but in reality they are becoming more insensitive and unconcerned about the value of human life and individuals’ real needs. True followers of Christ will be like their Master—able to recognize the true threat and distress of life and to respond with real help for people’s spiritual needs.
Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:
Deuteronomy 34-Joshua 2, Luke 13:22-14:6, Psalm 79:1-13 and Proverbs 12:26