SERMON OF THE WEEK
March 10, 2013
Next Sunday is the 5th Sunday of the Great Lent. On this day Jesus heals a crippled woman whose body had been bent for over 18 years and couldn't stand up straight. This is the 5th miracle Jesus had performed. Gospel reading is from St. Luke 13:10-17.
Gospel Reading: (Luke 13:10-17) Jesus Heals a Crippled Woman on the Sabbath
"10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues,
11 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.
12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.�
13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.
14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.�
15 The Lord answered him, You hypocrites! Doesn't each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?
16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?�
17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing."
On a Sabbath day Jesus was teaching in a synagogue and a woman there who had been bent over by a spirit for over 18 years was also listening to Jesus. This woman couldn't release herself of the spirit. Everyone ignored her, but when Jesus saw her, he wanted to help her be released from this spirit that burdened her.
Jesus saw her and called her to come forward. Jesus said to her, "You are set free from your infirmity." Jesus then put his hand on her and immediately she straightened herself up and praised God.
It was Jesus' love, powerful Word and his touch that set her free and lifted her up to let her walk upright again.
The religious leaders who were detractors and faultfinders were watching Jesus. The synagogue leader declared, "Healing on a Sabbath is indignant. There are six days for work, so come and be healed on those days and not on Sabbath."
The synagogue leader alluded to Deuteronomy 5:13, "For six days you shall labor and do all your work."
His response not only asserted the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) but also his own authority to interpret the will of God.
Jesus in his wisdom answered the synagogue leader, "You hypocrites, doesn't each of you on the Sabbath untie a cow or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give water? Then shouldn't this woman, the daughter of Abraham, who Satan has kept bound for 18 years be set free on a Sabbath from what had bound her?"
Jesus made a strong argument also based on Torah. Since the synagogue leader invoked Deuteronomy 5:13,, Jesus invoked the verse that followed it. "Not only are people not to work on a Sabbath, but neither is anyone do anything else."(Deut:5:14")
Jesus cited a common practice among Jews giving water to a cow or donkey a drink even on Sabbath. Jesus argued that the woman is far more important than the animals they help, yet animals were allowed far more freedom and consideration on the sabbath. The woman is the daughter of Abraham, heir to the same promise as Abraham. She had been held captive for many years by an evil spirit. What better time for this woman to be released from the grip of Satan than the Sabbath? Jesus said the very reason for the institution of Sabbath is to celebrate freedom from slavery that their forefathers had suffered in the land of Egypt many years ago.
Jesus was not alone in holding this opinion. Several other Jewish rabbis also taught that Sabbath was made for people's benefit, and should not be a burden for people.
The story finishes by noting that everyone was happy with the wonderful things Jesus had done. They were all rejoicing. Jesus in this story explained the true purpose of the Sabbath law. The crowd admired Jesus for his healing actions, advocacy for woman, and the articulation of the meaning of Sabbath.
Prepared by Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas, Valiyaparambil