Week 2: Lessons From The Pharisees
Day 4 – Principle in Action: Luke 13:10-17
Jesus didn’t just tell the Pharisees how they should behave and what Scripture they needed to review and understand. He lived out the difference between their idea of things and God’s idea of things.
In Luke 13, we find Jesus in the synagogue on the Sabbath. He meets a woman who has had an infirmity that has not allowed her to stand up straight for eighteen years. Every time I read this passage I think of a woman I met in Russia. Her name was Anna Mihailovna. I first met Anna through the “Pensioner Meetings” that we held each year at Christmas time. Anna’s poor body was twisted like no one I had ever met before. She was stooped, but this was the least of her problems. Her left leg crossed over her right leg at thigh level, her hip protruding out in front of her as she took one painful step at time. I think of the difficulty with which she did almost everything, and I then think of this woman in the temple who had been in this “bowed” position for eighteen long years. We do not know the severity of her condition, but to have spent so many years stooped over must have been trying and painful.
Jesus had compassion on the woman and healed her. This got the religious leaders stirred up again. In fact, verse fourteen says that the ruler of the synagogue spoke with indignation, “There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the Sabbath.” (vs. 14) Now there’s mercy and compassion for you, right?
Jesus didn’t hold anything back, “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? 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?” (vs. 15, 16)
Basically, Jesus is declaring that by their actions and accusations they value their livestock as of greater worth than this poor, crippled woman. They would give their livestock drink, but to heal this woman is wrong? According to their own words, their actions condemn them. If what Jesus has done violates the Sabbath, then what they have done violates the Sabbath.
Once again we see their religiosity conflicting with God’s true desire for them. Where is their love for mercy? They would sacrifice the Sabbath when it suited them, but uphold it when that suited them.
How easy it is to get caught up in our habits, traditions and routines, and completely miss what God has for us. I strongly believe that God established the church as His means of reaching the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He uses us all individually, but He wants each of us to be a part of a local body of believers. In line with that, we need to be careful that in our churches we are not becoming so caught up in all of our trappings that we miss the simple basic things that God wants us to be doing in the lives of those around us. I think that particular failing is part of what has led to many people seeking to pull away from churches. We need to do what God has called us to do. We need to live in a way that demonstrates that we are a people who love mercy and who serve the only God in whom the fatherless find mercy.
The last part of this story cannot be neglected. When Jesus rebuked the ruler of the synagogue, the Bible tells us that all of His adversaries were ashamed, but all the people rejoiced at His glorious works. Once again we see that same principle working itself out. Remember Matthew five, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” That was exactly what happened here. Jesus exercised mercy, and the Father was glorified.
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Also Check out Rachel Miller’s Book: The King’s Daughter: A Story of Redemption