Summary: The story of two cripples, yes two, who met Jesus just after Synagogue on Sabbath
Trinity 11 Bale 26-08-01.
Luke 13:10-17: Sabbath Prejudices.
Story: In 1981 the film, Chariots of Fire, won an Oscar - the Academy Award for Best Picture.
It tells the true story of two atheletes:
Harold Abrahams - a man of the world and Eric Liddell - a committed Christian.
Eric Liddell was one of the favourites to win the gold medal for the 100 m in the Paris Olympics in 1924.
However the quarter finals for the 100 m were scheduled to be run on a Sunday.
And Liddell made it a principle never to run on Sunday, the Lord’s day.
So he pulled out.
His coach, and some other including the Prince of Wales, try to convince him to change his mind.
But he would not participate in the semifinals, because they were being held on Sunday.
Liddell believed that to run on Sunday violated the 4th Commandment...to keep the Sabbath day holy.
However God honoured Liddell’s stand to make Sunday a special day for God. Liddell got his gold medal in a totally unexpected way
After turning down the chance to run in the 100m semifinals, Liddell was surprisingly given a place in the 400 m finals.
But it was a race that he had never run before.
And against all the odd, Liddell won the race.
Just before the race, one of the Great Britain team masseurs sent him a note that said:
“In the old book it says: He that honours me, I will honour” (referring to 1 Samuel 2:30)
Liddell won the 400 m finals with a world record and that day transformed the 400
Many race commentators said he ran like a man inspired. His sister Florence later commented:
Eric always said that the great thing for him was when he stood by his principles and refused to run in the 100 m, he found that the 400 m was really his race.
He would never have dreamt of trying the 400 m at the Olympics.
For Liddell Sunday was a special day for God and so he would not run on Sunday.
Today’s Gospel reading also deals with
the same issue.
Our day set aside for God is the Sunday - the day the Jews kept special was called the Sabbath.
And the question Jesus raised was: Is it right
to heal on the Sabbath?
In answering this question, I would like to focus on the two cripples who met Jesus in our Gospel reading this morning.
I would like to ask “which one went away healed”?
The Two cripples
Two cripples, you might ask – I only saw one.
Yes, two.... The two people that met with Jesus that morning were - I would suggest to you - both crippled in their own way.
1. The first cripple was, obviously, the woman
She was physically crippled.
One Bible Commentator has said that her deformity was due to “having the bones of her spine fused in a rigid mass.”
The Scripture tells us that she had been crippled by a spirit for 18 years.
Her disability was obvious. It was a real miracle to heal her. She went away from Jesus healed.
2. The Ruler of the Synagogue
The second cripple might surprise you. It was the ruler of the Synagogue
He too was crippled by a spirit – the spirit of legalism.
The spirit of legalism can be a real killjoy.
Instead of rejoicing that God had worked a wonderful miracle, he set about to denigrate it.
You might ask, who was he?
The Synagogue was the Church in Jesus’ day.
It was the place God’s people went to worship God.
And the Synagogue ruler was the man who ran the services - in today’s parlance the vicar.
The people would look up to him for spiritual guidance.
Why did he decide to take issue with Jesus.
Part of the reason might be that he felt miffed that Jesus’ healing was an invasion of his prerogative.
But I think the major reason was because what Jesus did - offended his understanding of the law of God.
3. What was the issue?
The issue wasn’t that Jesus had healed the woman.
No one claimed that Jesus’ healing was other than from God.
No one disputed that that was a good deed.
Rather it was the day that Jesus chose to perform the healing that caused the furore.
He did it on the Sabbath and the Pharisees had defined that as work.
It is almost derisory in today’s society – to be offended by someone healing on a Sunday. But in Jesus’ day it would have been a “hot potato.”
Let me explain why.
Israel had been overrun by the Romans and the Jews were struggling to keep their identity.
Their identity was bound up in their God and the covenant (what we now call the Old Testament) that they had with him.