Jesus was clearly out of line. There he was in the synagogue on the sabbath – the day each week set aside to honor God by doing no work or business. A bent and crippled woman showed up, who had been suffering for 18 years. Jesus surely knew better, but he touched her and healed her anyway. The leader of the synagogue was indignant.
In many ways, the leader was right. The rules and customs of their community made it clear that the sabbath was a day to be free of work. But Jesus didn’t back down. He pointed out that everyone did the work necessary to care for their animals on the sabbath. This woman, a child of God, ought to receive the same. Responding with care and compassion to the needs of others also honors God.
The leader of the synagogue had missed an important point. He had gotten caught up in the details and intricacies of following the sabbath rules and had actually missed the larger point of honoring God by caring for another in need. Perhaps he believed that the woman’s ailment was some kind of punishment from God. But Jesus makes it clear that God is the source of healing, and not pain.
It is usually easier to simply follow rules than to live with compassion. It is certainly easier to judge people than to care for them. Jesus invites us all to notice the needs around us and care for them, to discover ways to reach beyond boundaries and rules, and bring healing and wholeness to our world.
Jesus broke the rules, not for the sake of rebellion, but to heal and transform lives. To reconnect people to the God who loves us all. To help us move from judgement to compassion. To make it clear that God’s priorities are different than ours.
You can read the whole story in Luke 13:10 – 17
God of Compassion,
Teach me to see the world more like you see it.
Show me the pain and struggles faced by my friends, my neighbors, and the strangers I encounter.
Help me reach out in compassion and not judgement.
Help me find ways to honor you with my life.
Help me to see where rules and expectations get in the way of love and healing.
Help me to care for the needs of the world.
Use me to heal and transform your world. . .
. . . at least my little corner of it.