Well let’s get straight into the Bible shall we?
- Luke 13:10-11
10 And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11 And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.
- Jesus was teaching on the Sabbath. It is of notable mention in this story. As He was teaching though, what happens?
- There was this woman who had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years. 18 years this woman had been sick. The word infirmity just means sickness. She had been bowed down, hunched over for 18 years! That was her sickness.
- In our modern day we would call this scoliosis, a spine problem. Doctors would diagnose her to go see a chiropractor, or a physiotherapist. Or whatever treatment that was needed to just get her straightened out.
We don’t know what her past background was. We don’t know if she had sinned or not. But it seems to indicate that she had not sinned. Why?
- Because when you look at some of the past encounters that Jesus had with some people, He was quite specific sometimes. The man that was lame that was lowered through the roof by his friends.
- Mark 2:5
When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.
- Obviously this man needed healing spiritually first before Jesus would heal him physically. It must have been something that this man had done that had put him in this state. So Jesus forgives him first.
- Mark 2:5
- The man that had been lame for 38 years who was lying next to the pool and waiting to go in. Jesus comes to him and asks him if he wants to be whole or not. After that He tells him to take up his bed and walk. But later after that we see that Jesus actually talks to him again.
- John 5:14
Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.
- So he had been sinning and the sin had made him that way.
- John 5:14
- But with this woman, she was just sick. Afflicted by some sort of physical malady and problem that was not her own doing. It happens in life. You didn’t do anything wrong. You weren’t sinning. You were eating healthy. You were exercising. But still, somehow sickness still came on you.
- This was the situation that this woman found herself in. 18 years. 18 longs years she had been like this.
12 And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. 13 And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
- Jesus sees her, has compassion on her and speaks life and power into her, lays His hands on her and she is healed! He speaks, and shows the power of His word. Yes there is a healing touch also. And as soon as this woman is healed and is made straight, she glorifies God! She’s thankful for the blessing of health!
- But then something happens to interrupt this joyous occasion of seeing someone who had been sick for 18 years now to be finally healed.
And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.
- The celebration is interrupted with a harsh sound coming from the ruler of the synagogue. His tone is not in harmony with all the praise and thanksgiving coming from around him. He is angry.
- What could a person be possibly be angry about when someone is healed from a sickness of 18 years?! What did the man say? Why was he angry?
- There is 6 days men works, be healed on those day and not on the Sabbath which is a rest day.
- This man was zealous for the Sabbath! At least that’s what it seems. And he just declared that Jesus had broken the Sabbath by healing this woman. Amazing! This man had a pretended zeal. It was a zeal that was misplaced. I mean, after all he was the ruler of the synagogue. He was a position in religious authority. If anyone should have known how to keep the Sabbath, it would have been this man right? And he just declared that Jesus had broken the Sabbath by healing the sick woman.
How does Jesus respond?
- Everyone else has either gotten used to this behaviour and were living under this pretended holiness, or they were in shock that the ruler of the synagogue would say such a thing. Probably the former.
- But Jesus is not rattled or intimidated.
- Luke 13:15-17
15 The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? 16 And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?
- Jesus gave a very clear example of what they did on the Sabbath. They would open the gate for the cow or the donkey to let them go and drink water. After all, they needed to drink water right? And they did not consider that a violation of the Sabbath. It was “work” but it wasn’t a breaking of the 10 commandments in their eyes.
This is not the only time that Jesus was accused of breaking the Sabbath. Remember, He was ACCUSED of breaking it. But did Jesus really break the Sabbath? Absolutely not! He wasn’t violating the 10 commandments Jesus wasn’t trying to redefine the Sabbath from the time that He had instituted it back at the very beginning of creation. But what Christ needed to do was redefine it in the sight of the Jews that were living at that time. The Sabbath had become a burden.
Jesus had many instances with the Jewish teachers and leaders about the issue of the Sabbath. I can’t help but to think that it was intentional in some cases so that He could stir up people’s thoughts about the rigours of the Jewish traditions and their hypocrisy.
Here is another confrontation that Jesus had with the Pharisees and religious leaders of His day:
- Matthew 12:10-14
10 And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? That they might accuse him. 11 And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? 12 How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. 13 Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other. 14 Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.
- It would be a tall task to pull your sheep out of the pit that it had fallen into. No doubt, the person doing it would have been sweating much, gotten very dirty. Would have needed to take a shower of that for sure! But the Pharisees who were so angry at Jesus when He healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath!
- Wasn’t a man much better than a sheep? And even then, it required much less effort for this man to be healed than for the sheep to be pulled out of the pit.
- These people had higher regard for a dumb animal than for a person who had been suffering a physical malady for a long time! THAT is hypocrisy at its best.
- And look at their reaction when Jesus would ask them the question?
- Mark 3:4
And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.
- Mark 3:4
- They just remained silent! Were they just angry that they were being challenged by someone that seemed less learned than them? Did they feel disrespected because their hypocrisy was revealed?
Jesus would reason with them on another occasion:
- John 7:22-23
22 Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man. 23 If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?
- Circumcision was under the Torah, Moses’ Law. The law stated that the new born child had to be circumcised on a specific day:
- Leviticus 12:3
And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.
- They had to be circumcised on the 8th day! And it didn’t matter that it was the Sabbath. It was OK, legal, they were breaking any commandment, by circumcising the child on the 8th day.
- Leviticus 12:3
- They would put Moses’ law above the 10 commandments! But now here is Jesus healing on the Sabbath, and they took fault with Him on that.
- Jesus was challenging the Pharisees’ beliefs. He wanted to help them to see that they were holding on to man-made traditions, and not following the law as to how God intended for them to follow from the beginning. It had been twisted.
Here’s another instance:
- Mark 2:23-24
23 And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. 24 And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?
- Jesus and the disciples were nomad’s. They moved here and there. They didn’t have a place to call home or their headquarters. And so one day, they were just walking along and were hungry and so they decided to pluck some corn to eat. They were condemned by the Pharisees for breaking the Sabbath.
Is there still relevance of the Sabbath today? ABSOLUTELY!
- Hebrews 4:9-10
9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
- The 4th commandment today has not been changed – that’s another topic for another time. It is still binding. It is still relevant. We still should not work on this day.
- Yes, if you are having to still do your work on the Sabbath, it’s time to pause and reflect, and understand the Sabbath and make sure you don’t fight God, but just quit and look for another job!
How did the Pharisees and the Jewish nation get to that point of being so rigorous and definitive about keeping the Sabbath?
- The 10 commandments are just as binding for us today as it was back then for them. So what happened? They got so caught up with the keeping of the law that they lost sight of the Spirit of the law.
- You can see this in scriptures like this:
- Luke 18:11-12
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
- Luke 18:11-12
- They focused so much on the law! And it’s not that I’m saying we shouldn’t focus on it. But they just made that their righteousness and not Christ! They lost its spirit. They started looking at people instead of the gospel!
- You come to learn about the health message and how eating late is not good for us. So you start practicing the habit of having your last meal at 5:30 or 6pm.
- But then you see that church they organize a program, and lo and behold, they have dinner at 8pm or 8:30pm! And some even come late and start eating at 9pm. And because you just learnt about this healthy eating and how important it is for us to go to sleep on an empty stomach, we start to judge all these people in our hearts.
- We start to think, if they knew God, if they loved Jesus, they wouldn’t eat at such a late hour! And so we stop attending such gatherings. We forget to give people room for growth. We become so rigid with the law that we forget to have the spirit of love for others.
- This happens in our minds if we aren’t careful! We forget how patient people were with us when we were growing in knowledge and faith of God.
Well, that’s what happened to the Jewish leaders, when they saw people breaking the law, they added more laws and defined the laws so clearly down to the very atom so that people would make sure to keep it! But what started happening?
- People of course were not able to keep it. And losing sight of faith that lays hold of the power of God that helps people to obey, they focused on the laws and the people. Religion became a form. And they lost the power found in the gospel and in faith. They forgot that it wasn’t simply about keeping the law. The inability to keep it showed their lack of spirituality and love to God.
- It’s possible that as we grow in understanding of the life that God wants us to live, that sometimes we lose sight of God Himself and focus on the doing of it. And when we take the law all by itself, and we forget to ask for His Spirit which is love, joy, peace, long suffering, all those good things! Then we become judgmental! They lost the spirit.
- They forgot the whole reason as to why the law was given at the beginning. It was to teach them to love. It was all about the people!
And it’s possible today that as we read the bible, as we learn to walk with Jesus, as we grow in knowledge and in faith, that we lose sight of the people. It’s possible to look at Christianity as a set form of do’s and don’t’s. To think all about just one thing – what must I do to be saved?! And that’s where religion then becomes a burden rather than a relationship.
The Christian does not think solely on “What must I do to be saved?” Yes we all with have thoughts on that. But eventually our thoughts must focus away from us and eventually become, “What must I do to save others?” We keep in perspective others, and not self. The Pharisees were so caught up with their selves and their own pretended righteousness.
And today, many of us are just so caught up with our own lives. Whether in the church or outside of the church. We’ve forgotten that the essence of the law is love to God and love to our neighbour. May God help us today to take that focus away from ourselves and re-focus on God and eventually on others. May God fill our hearts so full of His love that it will result in self-forgetfulness. And as we focus on others, we won’t judge them but love them with the same love that Christ loved them with.