Luke 13:14-16, But the synagogue official, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, began saying to the crowd in response, "There are six days in which work should be done; so come during them and get healed, and not on the Sabbath day." But the Lord answered him and said, "You hypocrites, does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the stall and lead him away to water him? And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?"

Poor man! If anyone can sympathize with him, we should! Jesus healed a woman in the synagogue on a Sabbath. The man was a synagogue official (a "leader," not an "attender"; not uninformed but knowledgeable). Was he upset! "Jesus cannot heal people in this synagogue on the Sabbath! Not here! Not now! How inappropriate!"

Inappropriate? God's power is inappropriate in God's assembly among people who supposedly know God? The issue was not: (1) Jesus' power to heal; (2) "What is the origin of Jesus' power to do good things?" (3) the suffering woman; or (4) giving God glory for incredible happenings. The issue was, "Not here and now!"

Surely we understand the man's feelings. Had not God's law plainly declared, "Keep the Sabbath holy" (Exodus 20:8)? Had not it clearly declared one keeps the Sabbath holy by refraining from work (Exodus 20:9,10)? Had they not defined work? Had not those definitions regulated activities among devout Israelites for generations? How dare Jesus defile the Sabbath by performing a work of healing on the Sabbath in this synagogue!

So in devotion to scripture he condemned God's Son for doing a godly thing! He was indignant! This upset official told the audience, "If you want Jesus to heal you, come on one of the other six days; not on a Sabbath!" Interesting! Do not benefit from God's power on the day set aside to remember God's creation power. The poor man knew more about scripture than he knew about God. The result: he used scripture to oppose God's purposes and values.

Jesus declared him to be hypocritical. This representative of God did more for animals on the Sabbath than for a suffering human. He championed his views, not God's priorities.

I do not condemn the man. I sympathize with him. May God's grace forgive me when I have the same attitude! May His mercy cover my ignorance (which I consider "on-target" scriptural defenses) when I use God's word to oppose God's priorities!

It is so easy to (1) view scripture as an end in itself rather than a road map to God; (2) to hold scripture in higher regard than God; (3) to miss God's priorities revealed in scripture. It is so easy to react instead of think--even if it means we oppose God's purposes in His Son.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 11 April 2004

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