When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” (Luke 13:12 ESV)
The episode in Luke chapter 13 that grips me on this reading is the episode concerning the woman with the bent back (vs 10-17).
First, though Jesus was teaching, he wasn’t blind to the needs of those who were listening. He could have kept on teaching, but when he noticed this woman, he didn’t see any issue in meeting the need that he saw. It’s moving and humbling to watch Jesus move with such compassion to alleviate the woman of the disability. I hope I get to witness more of Jesus doing that in my day and time, so men and women can glorify God as this woman did having been suffering for so long.
Next is the outrageous response of the synagogue ruler. It’s usually at this point that other observers might want to make this about religion and over officious religious people missing the point. What I observe in the ruler’s word though is not a religious spirit, as such. His response highlights someone very insensitive to the plight of those who are suffering. The very religion he is supposed to uphold would not support his position. The reading of the Sabbath rest and cessation from work wouldn’t go as far as neglecting those in need and suffering. It thus takes a far more serious condition than religiosity. This is more about wielding power and control which the actions and teachings of Jesus appeared to jeopardise. It makes me wonder if sometimes we get so hung up on ritual and procedure that we overlook the most important matter – the condition of the people. When God chooses to do something amazing and brilliant, would we be too caught up in a desire to maintain our sense of control to truly appreciate it?
This is why the rebuke of Jesus is so important. These attitudes seeking to maintain proud positions can be exposed for the hypocrisy they are. Not only exposed but cause shame and embarrassment as it did to the synagogue ruler.
For sometimes it’s not just a physical disability that we need to be released from. Sometimes the cultural and social constructs we prize can disable us. They can tie us down to a particular approach. In the tying down we don’t grow or progress. We can be rendered inert from such crippling states of mind.
This is why it’s good to know that in Jesus we can be untied from that burden and be released to enjoy the rest God designed especially for us.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden