Luke 13:10-16

On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath from what bound her?”

I’m not sympathetic to the Pharisees and other “hypocrites,” but I identify with them because there are probably so many ways in which my own religiosity conflicts with the heart of Jesus. The synagogue ruler in this story was simply attempting to be faithful to Torah by following a popular interpretation of it, but by doing so he, probably unintentionally, was being disobedient to God. Especially while talking about the Sabbath, I wonder in what ways do my interpretations of what to do and not to do when conflict with the heart of Jesus? Are there certain things that I routinely do or fail to do on the Sabbath that are hypocritical, that fail God, that leave sons and daughters of Abraham bound? Is the Sabbath a day simply for public worship and rest, or should it be a day of justice, for releasing the oppressed? Shouldn’t we work to see the world “set free on the Sabbath from what bound them”?

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