Summary: The analysis of the topic of healing on the Sabbath as set forth in Luke 13:10-17 teaches us the meaning of the Sabbath.
This is the fourth Sunday of Advent. Advent is the season of the Christian year in which we remember the first coming of Jesus and also anticipate the second coming of Jesus.
In our study of The Gospel of Luke, Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem from Galilee. He only had a few months left to live before his death. He knew that he was going there to pay the penalty for sin by his death. He would sacrifice his life in order to reconcile sinners with a holy God.
In the previous section in The Gospel of Luke, Jesus issued a very clear warning about the necessity of repentance in order to avoid God’s judgment (13:1-9). But in today’s lesson we learn that instead of turning to God in repentance and faith, Jesus’ adversaries became even more hardened against him.
The scene for today’s lesson is that of Jesus teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath. There he heals a woman with a disabling spirit.
Let’s read about Jesus healing a woman with a disabling spirit in Luke 13:10-17:
10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “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? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him. (Luke 13:10-17)
In his commentary on Luke’s Gospel, Dr. Philip Ryken opens with a quotation from Stephanie Hubach, who is the mother of two boys, one of whom has Down syndrome.
Steph Hubach describes disability as “a normal part of life in an abnormal world.” From the Christian perspective, disability is a normal part of life in an abnormal world.
Disabilities are often considered abnormal. But if “normal” means something that many people experience, and that nearly everyone is familiar with, disability is certainly normal. We all know people with disabilities. Some are blind, deaf, or lame. Others are physically deformed. Some are confined to wheelchairs. Others are unable to leave their homes. Some are born with disabilities. Others are disabled later in life. It is normal to have disabilities. And it is normal to have friends who have disabilities. Disabilities are a regular part of life.
Nevertheless, a disability is still a disability, and this is where the abnormality comes in. Disability is normal only in an abnormal world. It was not this way from the beginning, when God created a perfect world for perfect people with perfect bodies. Adam and Eve were not created disabled, and their children never would have been disabled unless sin had entered the world.
Steph Hubach explains it like this:
According to the biblical account in Genesis, tragedy struck with the Fall of mankind – with a devastating impact on every aspect of creation. As Paul states in Romans 8:20, “the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice.” Our world became an abnormal world. . . . Disability is simply a more noticeable form of the brokenness that is common to human experience – a normal part of life in an abnormal world.
Jesus often met people with disabilities. However, he had the power to heal them. We see Jesus doing that with a woman with a disabling spirit.
The analysis of the topic of healing on the Sabbath as set forth in Luke 13:10-17 teaches us the meaning of the Sabbath.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. The Setting for the Healing (13:10-11)
2. The Healing by Jesus (13:12-13)
3. The Criticism by the Ruler of the Synagogue (13:14)
4. The Rebuke by Jesus (13:15-16)
5. The Response of the Witnesses (13:17)
I. The Setting for the Healing (13:10-11)
First, let’s look at the setting for the healing.
Luke said that Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath (13:10). This is the last time – at least in The Gospel of Luke – that Jesus was in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. We don’t know which synagogue this was, but it was most likely somewhere between Galilee and Jerusalem. And we believe that Jesus was now only months – and perhaps weeks – away from his own death by crucifixion.