Monday, February 12, 2007



At this point we come to a very common scene—Jesus attending and speaking at a local synagogue. He was viewed as a visiting rabbi and therefore invited to speak. After awhile, people began to anticipate that He would be teaching.

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.

While speaking, Jesus noticed a woman who was badly crippled sitting in the congregation. “When He saw her” gives a hint that He saw her with His heart of compassion. And when He saw her, He called her forward in order to “set her free” from her infirmity. He touched her and “immediately” she was healed and was thankful to God for her healing.

Now the synagogue leader seems to be embarrassed, because Jesus healed this woman on the Sabbath. 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."

His response made it clear that the keeping of the law of the Sabbath was more important than a woman being healed. Think of it. This poor lady had been crippled for 18 years, bound in her knotted body. Can you imagine, not being able to straighten up for 18 years? And then, all at once she finds a miraculous relief of her personal pain. She was free! It didn’t matter to her how this happened, who caused it to happen or that it happened on the Sabbath. She was free!
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? 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?"

Jesus’ response is to appeal to them that the law of the Sabbath doesn’t bind you from doing something compassionate for your animals. It’s the natural thing to do. How much more ought we to show compassion on a woman who has been bound for 18 years.

NOTE what happens: When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.

All of those who were threatened by Jesus’ non-traditional ways were deeply humiliated by what He just did. Jesus acted out boldly on the Sabbath with a constant question in His heart, “What can I do to help?” He was leading out in the ways the synagogue leaders wish they could be able to do. Then, note that the people were delighted with the wonderful things He was doing.

This response is typical for today as well. It’s not the people who are threatened; it’s the leadership. Jesus’ work doesn’t embarrass the common, ordinary people. He doesn’t embarrass the humble. Jesus doesn’t even embarrass the various sinners. Jesus gets under the skin of the leadership who by their very positions and attitudes over promising and under delivering. They promise freedom and deliver bondage—binding people up into a “club membership” that must keep feeding the massive, religious machine.

This religious machine tends to become everything Jesus is not—impersonal, distant, judgmental and condemning, exclusive. And in the process of making the machine larger, more and more people are repulsed by it and turned off from the only one who can bring them hope and peace—JESUS.

The religious machine has been highly successful in turning Jesus into “another” Jesus—a Jesus who is not irresistible, but easy to resist. So, most people have not rejected Jesus, but a poor caricature of Him.

Rather than end on a downer, I want to share with you a quote from a past president of Harvard University in the ‘70’s. He said: “The mark of an educated person is that he has the ability to discuss Jesus of Nazareth without adolescent embarrassment.” When the true Jesus is lifted up, all men and women are drawn to Him from every nation and tribe. That’s the Jesus I am doing my best to follow. There is no religious machine ever built that can produce this Jesus.

Check Him out! He can be found in the pages of your local Bible—in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts. He is there day and night, waiting to meet you.