Summary: Two cripples but only one is healed...
Trinity 12 KB 22-08-10.
Luke 13:10-17: Sabbath Prejudices.
Story: An organist was practicing one day in a great church in Europe.
As he was playing, a man came up to the organ and asked if he could play. The organist looked at him and thought to himself.
“I shouldn’t let this man play, just look at him, he is unshaven, his clothes are soiled, he looks like a down and out.”
So he told the man no.
But the unkempt stranger asked again and again.
Finally the organist let him play thinking he couldn’t play very long, for what does a down and out know about organs.
The down and out’s fingers danced over the keyboard in a way the organist hadn’t heard in his lifetime.
The stranger played on and on.
The organist was spellbound.
When the stranger got up to leave, the organist could not contain himself and said
"Who are you - what is your name??"
As the down-and-out slowly walked away, he turned and said over his shoulder:
"My name is Felix Mendelsohn."
The organist gasped.
He said to himself, " I almost did not let the master play."
The organist had almost let his prejudice get the better of him – and would have missed out on one of the most awesome moments of his playing career.
We all have prejudices which we need to overcome.
This morning’s Gospel reading also deals with Prejudices and in this case - the prejudice that the Sabbath was so holy that you can’t even heal on the Sabbath.
Jesus dealt with the prejudice by healing one of the two cripples who met him 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.
i. 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.
ii. 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 perogative.
But I think the major reason was because what Jesus did - offended his understanding of the law of God.
2. 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.
And they believed that only by slavishly keeping the rules of that Covenant could they satisfy God.
The issue for the Ruler of the Synagogue was that by healing on the Sabbath, Jesus was breaking the fourth commandment – set out in Ex. 20:8-11 as follows:
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.
For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.