By Brooke Holt
“But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, ‘There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.’ Then the Lord answered him, ‘You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?’ As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.” Luke 13:14-17
Imagine for a few minutes you were in the synagogue that day with Jesus. With your very eyes, you saw a woman crumpled over despite her will and best efforts. One moment she was looking down, and the next, she stood perfectly straight. No lightning had come down from heaven; there was no yelling. Instead, there were just the simple words Jesus spoke: “Woman, you are freed from your disability” (Luke 13:12). And she was free. Whatever spirit had been crushing her was now gone. After being healed, this woman began glorifying the Lord. She knew she had experienced a miracle.
Just like today, miracles were not an everyday occurrence in those synagogues. That is unless you were with Jesus. He worked miracles in synagogues, street corners, boats, and fields. Basically, Jesus worked miracles wherever he went. Wouldn’t that be the most exciting thing to witness? You would expect joy, celebration, and for everyone to join this woman in glorifying God.
Yet, Luke tells us a different kind of reaction. The synagogue ruler is not glorifying God, and he is certainly not sharing in the joy of Jesus and the woman who has been healed. This ruler is angry at Jesus because he dared to heal on the Sabbath. What a crazy reaction! Why would the rules of the Sabbath apply to healing? Why would rules take precedence over this woman who had been afflicted for eighteen long years?
It is hard to fathom the rationale behind this ruler’s reaction. We can speculate he took his job seriously, or maybe he was threatened by this new power being demonstrated in his synagogue. Clearly, he was not willing to come under the authority and power of Jesus. Instead, he wanted to control Jesus by the things that controlled him—rules and regulations, the way he thought things should be. Supposedly, those things were all about obeying God and glorifying God. Yet, God stood in front of him, and he could not see; Jesus spoke the words of God, and he could not hear. Jesus offered him an opportunity to see the miracles God could work, but his heart was hard.
Are there ways you miss God because you are so focused on your will, way, or agenda? May we surrender our eyes, ears, hearts, and minds to the Lord today so we can recognize him and join in the work he is doing among us.
How is your heart today—soft and open to the things of the Lord, or have you allowed hardness to come in through anger, unforgiveness, or sin? Ask the Lord to search your heart and then purify your heart today. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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