“But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, ‘There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.’” Luke 13:14 NKJV
Why The Leaders Were So Mad
Cheater! Cheater! Jesus upstaged the ruler of the synagogue when He healed a crippled lady. Why else would he be mad that someone got healed? That’s what the synagogue leader was really saying. UNFAIR! The only way the synagogue ruler could think of to fix this was to call Jesus a rule breaker.
How much work do you think it took for a disabled woman to get back and forth to the synagogue for eighteen years? It doesn’t sound like a “day of rest” for her. If people helped her by carrying her, was that considered work? Was everybody breaking the rules of the Sabbath making sure the woman got to the meeting? If so, not only did Jesus’ act of healing relieve her from the work it took to travel to the synagogue, He also relieved her family and community members from the work it took to help.
Just Another Day of Rule Keeping
Luke says this woman was suffering from a “disabling spirit.” When did this poor woman ever get to fully take the day of rest God provided for her? The Jews took the Sabbath so seriously they created all kinds of rules about what it means to rest. Their day of rest turned out to be another day of rule keeping, which is work! They loved rules more than people.
There are two metaphors Jesus uses. The first is a picture of the Pharisees strapping heavy burdens to those they lead. But the thing is, the leaders would never put their shoulders into the kind of work they laid on others.
The other metaphor Jesus uses is of the narrow road versus the wide road. The narrow leads to eternal life while the wide to destruction. This narrow road metaphor is the one the modern church uses to identify us. But, in an attempt to keep people on the straight and narrow, sometimes, in the spirit of the Pharisee strapping heavy loads on people, we make the path narrower than Jesus intended.
Jesus is Available to All
When representing Jesus, we need to remember that He wants there to be as much access to Him as possible. We can’t make rules to block or limit access to the One that heals.
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Bryon Mondok is a digital engagement practitioner, missions pastor, and former missionary. Loves to read, write, and run.