Does The Law Forbid Miracles On The Sabbath?

'Lost and Found' by Greg Olsen. Used with Permission.
“Lost and Found” by Greg Olsen. Used with Permission.

October 26, 2020

Luke 13:10-17

Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath.
And a woman was there who for eighteen years
had been crippled by a spirit;
she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect.
When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said,
“Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.”
He laid his hands on her,
and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.
But the leader of the synagogue,
indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath,
said to the crowd in reply,
“There are six days when work should be done.
Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day.”
The Lord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites!
Does not each one of you on the sabbath
untie his ox or his ass from the manger
and lead it out for watering?
This daughter of Abraham,
whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now,
ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day
from this bondage?”
When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated;
and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.

Last week we celebrated the Memorial of St John Paul II. That day the Gospel was taken from that of St John.

If you remember, Jesus asked Peter three times if Peter loved him. The first time, Jesus charged him with feeding his lambs.

Today, the Gospel is from St Luke’s. Luke is preaching to the Gentiles – people who probably never heard of Jesus and knew little of the Jews and their practices. They are newly born to the faith – they are lambs.

Peter sent him to feed the lambs and that’s what he’s doing today.

First thing, he speaks of a woman suffering for eighteen years with a demon. If I had to guess, this demon she was fighting was internal. Probably guilt from choices she had made prior to eighteen years she has been suffering.

The lesson being, we cannot do this on our own. If we can’t forgive ourselves, we will be transfigured into something grotesque. This woman had been bent over, unable to look people in the face for eighteen years. She was probably looked on with horror and avoided. She might as well have had leprosy.

Jesus sees her and tells her all her past is forgiven and she is free from what is causing her plight.

And she is transformed. She stands upright and looks everyone in the eye – probably many who knew of her problems that had caused her such pain. Now, she is forgiven and no longer suffers.

Luke’s lesson is that Jesus can heal each of us from the burdens of our past.

Which brings us to the second lesson.

The chief Pharisee speaks up and says it is not lawful to heal on the Sabbath. No “work” of any kind should be done and immediately tells all who are thinking they might be healed to come back another time – Not On The Sabbath.

But Jesus once again shows how he is clarifying the Law. He isn’t changing it, but he shows the hypocrisy of those who hold themselves in such high esteem.

They say it is unlawful to heal those in need but at the same time, they also do work on the sabbath by doing menial tasks such as feeding and leading their animals.

He shows them the Law can be fulfilled – even on the Sabbath.

Honestly, what could be greater than a woman being delivered from the clutches of the Evil One – on the Sabbath?

At least that’s what I heard Him say…

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