Sunday 21 August 2016

Luke 13 v10-17, Pentecost 14, Jesus heals the woman bent double and is criticised

From Luke 12:35 we learnt that the kingdom comes with the "fire" of judgment and divides and disturbs. Luke has reminded us that the only response possible in the face of the coming kingdom of God is to repent or to die!, (13:1-9). Luke now encourages us that although there is a time of test and trial the kingdom of God will inevitably be victorious, 13:10-21. The presence and power of the coming kingdom is proclaimed and shown in the healing miracle of the woman who was bent double. The healing happened while Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues. The woman will have known of Jesus reputation and hoped against hope for a miracle after 18 years of suffering from something psychological or skoliosis, or spondylitis. She couldnt raise her head up at all. 
When Jesus saw her, he said to her you are set free, you have been released from your infirmity and he put his hand on her and immediately she straightened up and she praised God.  

The ruler of the synagogue literally applied Exodus 20:9. He was indignant annoyed/angry because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath day. He said to the people there are six days in which it is necessary to work, to come and be healed. 

Jesus answered him, "You hypocrites.Your religion is no more than a facade of conventional piety. Doesn't each of you on the Sabbath loose your donkey and give it a drink!”

Jesus is making the point that, irrespective of it being the Sabbath day, he is bound to "set her loose", given that he is able to do so and she is a daughter of Abraham. If it is ok to untie an animal to give it a drink, then it is ok to "untie", or release from an illness, a woman who is a Jew. 

Satan is Identified as the source of all sickness, He has kept her bound for 18 years. God does the loosing. When he said this all his opponents were humiliated, put to shame. The people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing, saying/debating. The congregation was delighted and cheered him on!
So a synagogue leader in tried to shame Jesus by pointing out that the healing was work -- something that could be done on any of the six days set aside for work instead of the holy Sabbath. Jesus’ response is to use the rabbinic argument of the lesser to the greater. Jesus responds, like his accuser, to the crowd by pointing out that any of them would take care of an animal needing help on the Sabbath -- so how much more should they respond to a human being in need. But the synagogue leader and Jesus are actually saying more here. The synagogue leader uses the Greek verb dei to make his claim about the ought of work. Luke loves this verb because it describes what it is necessary for Jesus to do as God’s agent. This is why Jesus’ response picks up on the synagogue leader’s claim. The ought here is not about a divine necessity to work on the other six days, but based on a divine necessity (dei) to have this woman freed from bondage on the Sabbath (Luke 13:16). To make the point even clearer, he calls her what she really is, a “daughter of Abraham.” Jesus intensifies the theological understanding. God’s purposes is to heal, liberate, and unbind.

When God is up to something, prepare to be unbound: whether from confining diseases, or social norms or holy taboos. Jesus keeps drawing the circle wider. Sometimes we glimpse the great thing that God is doing. 



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