Summary: Woman, you are free from your infirmity.
Jesus was teaching in the synagogues and there in the synagogue was a woman with an infirmity that had her bent over for 18 long years. The Bible says that Jesus called her to himself; laid his hands on her and said, "Woman, you are free from your infirmity." And immediately she straightened up and began praising the Lord. But one of the officials of the synagogue began to complain and saying, "Now, there are six days on which healing ought to be done but the seventh day is holy unto God. Come back on one of the six days but the Sabbath belongs to God."
How easy it is this morning to identify with this unnamed bent over woman. To identify with Jesus on the side of this unknown woman. And how easy it is to suck in our teeth in horror at this synagogue official. We might say now, in the comfort of centuries of hindsight, "How could anyone be so insensitive, so stuck in tradition, so enslaved to protocol, to protest this afflicted woman an opportunity to be healed." Had this man no compassion? We now ask. Had he no pity, no empathy for this poor woman. How easy it is for us NOW in the comfort of pews and four Gospels to prove to us that He is who He says He is. It is easy for us to identify with the woman and with Jesus and suck in our teeth at the synagogue official. Didn’t this man know who Jesus was!? Didn’t he know that Jesus came to heal!? Didn’t he know that Jesus came to set at liberty those who were captive; to bind-up the brokenhearted; and came that we might all have life and have it more abundantly. Didn’t he know that Jesus came with power over unclean spirits; to trade over serpents; to loose things and to bind things! Didn’t he know that the man he invited to preach in the pulpit on that Sabbath was the Son of the Living God. Everybody ought to know who Jesus is: He’s the Lilly of the valley, the bright and the morning star. Of course we, informed modern readers with books of knowing and centuries of tradition under our belts, we know who Jesus is. We know exactly who we are to identify with in this story. With 2000 years of hindsight we know who is wrong and who is wronged in this Gospel message. It’s easy, this morning, to identify with the bent over woman and distance ourselves from the obtuse official. But are we really so different from the synagogue official? Put yourself in the audience on that Sabbath morning. Are you certain that you wouldn’t have been just a bit annoyed and indigent as a stranger in your pulpit, a guest preacher, invited -- doesn’t really belong, overstepped his bounders, ignored your traditions and proceeded contrary to your expectations. This synagogue official was peeved and rightly so -- this visitor proceeded to act contrary to his expectation and make an "on the spur of the moment" decision -- HOW DARE HE! He had completely ignored the traditions and the customs of this community; not mention, defying the law. He had interrupted the preaching and teaching session to go beyond the boundaries of the traditions of this synagogue to presume to have a healing service.
Now, we don’t play that. He was invited to teach but He presumed to heal. He was invited to speak and expound and to exegete but He presumed to heal somebody. He was invited to be articulate and eloquent and in a short amount of time but he presumed to call somebody out (You. . .God wants to heal you today). Now, who do he think he is, we don’t do that up in here! Ah, it’s easy to identify with Jesus 2000 years later but how would you acted if someone came in and did something contrary to your expectations. He calls this woman to the front of this synagogue, how dare he! How dare he call a woman up and insist that all these men look at this woman. He called a woman up with a physical infirmity. It’s one thing to call a good looking woman up but it’s another thing to call up a woman that don’t look mighty pretty this morning. And she had an infirmity. And you know how we are about people with infirmities -- they don’t walk straight; what’s wrong with their skin; one hand is shorter than the other; some other kind of deformity. And you know how we are when they are in our midst: we’re fascinated and repulsed; we are curious and yet we are ashamed. And to ask us to sit here while she makes her way down the aisle and we’ve got to fidget. Can’t decide whether we should look or not look. How could he do this to us? Oh Lord, how long is it gonna take for her to get down there!? Ah, everybody like to identify with Jesus. But there isn’t very much difference between us and the synagogue official.