Summary: A sermon based on Jesus and the healing on the Sabbath.
In our Gospel reading for today, Jesus performs yet another miracle. However, the thing that causes the biggest stir among many is not the fact that he performed a miracle, but rather the day of the week on which he performed it.
Jesus heals this woman on the Sabbath. Healing on the Sabbath? What’s the big deal in that, right? However for the devout Jews, it was a big deal. According to the Law, any work with the exception involving the basic care for animals was forbidden.
I remember as a child reading the Little House on the Prairie Series. In the book entitled Farmer Boy I remember Almanzo Wilder’s family spending Sunday doing as little as possible. His mother even cooked the Sunday meals the day before so she did not have to start the fire in the stove, as that would have been considered work. The only things they were allowed to do was read from the Bible and the chores.
It is this kind of mentality that the Jews prescribed to as well. However Jesus makes it clear that even though it is the Sabbath, God and his works do not stop just because it is a day of rest. Grace knows no Sabbath.
The woman in Luke was suffering, and she was looking to the Lord for help. Jesus rebukes the Pharisees with these words:
The Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” (Luke 13:15-16 NIV)
Basically He questions their sense of humanity, He questions what they feel God finds important. He basically asks, “Doesn’t the woman deserve as much attention as an animal?” “Doesn’t she deserve a Sabbath from the pain that Satan has bound her to?” Most of all, His rebuke asks this question of the men. Doesn’t God watch over and protect us every moment of every day of the week? Does grace really take a day off?
No, grace doesn’t take a day off. In fact we often find ourselves as His instrument in lives of other people. Sometimes God calls for us at a moment that is convenient for us. More over the moment He calls us to be that instrument of grace, more often than not He is using the moment to take us to a place in our faith where we possibly have not been willing to travel before.
For example think back to Jeremiah, what was his excuse? “I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child."” I am too young, I do not know how to speak in front of others. God called on Jeremiah to help the people of Israel out of their impending crisis. Israel had so turned from God, and were so caught up in their own lives and intrigues they failed to recognize the threat to them from the east, in the form of the Babylonians. Through Jeremiah, God calls his people back to Him. Even though most them especially the rulers failed to heed or utterly refused to listen to Jeremiah, God reached out to the people to give them a chance to escape their fate. Even though most did not accept God’s call to them those that did were saved. They were freed and allowed to remain in Israel.
He did the same thing with other people from the Bible, whether it was Joseph and his brothers, Moses, or Paul. He took them out of their comfort zones and allowed them to become part of His grace upon others.
So are we that much different from the Pharisees in this story? I find it interesting that today’s society has done an exact opposite when it comes to God when or when not He should perform His miracles.
Today’s secular society feels we should keep God to ourselves. The Pharisee’s felt it was not appropriate to perform healings on the Sabbath, and especially not in the synagogue, God’s House. Many peoples in today’s society says that God should only be seen and heard with in the walls of the church.
However God, does not see it that way. His works cannot be placed in a building or time of day or week. Since we are to live our lives in a Christ like manner, we should always be on watch for the opportunity to share God’s love with everyone.
In the Gospel according to Luke, we know that the woman has been tormented and suffering for nearly the last eighteen years of her life. For this whole time she has never had a day of rest from this pain. So the question posed by Jesus has a double meaning. Not only is it symbolic that Jesus released this woman from her affliction on the Sabbath, but also that her freedom from this affliction is a personal Sabbath for her.