Rev. Mark Vickers
August 21, 20216
Luke 13:10-17: 10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11 And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” 13 When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 14 But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” 15 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 manger, and lead it away to give it water? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” 17 When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
We live in a society that thinks less about work than any other society in the world.
Now that sounds like a bizarre statement, but in light of how much we work, we as a society are consumed with “doing” the work rather than “thinking” about the work.
We have gone astray from even thinking about the concept of work. You see, work has dominated the way in which we live rather than “the way in which we live dominates how we work!”
This being said, it appears that I’m in the seat of the Jewish Temple leader that appears in our Gospel text today. If I make that type of statement, it seems that I’m in line with the orthodox thinking that no work should be done on the Sabbath.
We hear this morning a story that revolves around the notion of work, whereas if we examine it carefully, it is a story about healing and faith. However, it has conjured up a complex conversation about the nature of work and religious life. I believe that if we take a serious look at this text, we see a little about both work and faith.
Our society and culture has mixed this up so much that we have found ourselves pondering the amount of time we work on the Sabbath rather than what occurs on the Sabbath that we get lost.
The Sabbath is absolutely to be used for rest, but how do we and how does Jesus define rest and work in the same breath. How do we define work? Thus the contemplation continues between rest and work and the Sabbath.
Thus we need to look carefully at this text. The woman is not in mortal danger! This is not a life or death scenario. Along with that, we have to also understand that Jesus and Luke are extremely focused on the understanding about the coming Kingdom of God. Many issues arise here: authority, defiance, holy work, and the placement of the text. You see, in Luke, it falls between the parable of the Fig tree (repentance) and The Mustard Seed and Leaven (descriptive in the coming Kingdom of God). So why does a story of healing come in between both of these parables? Could it be a story that reminds us that God continually fulfills our hopes and promises in the midst of fallen and forgiven and redeemed world? More so than a focus on “work”? We have to remember here that the woman, who has been afflicted for 18 years, does NOT ask for healing! Jesus calls her out! It is Jesus’ activity that sets the motion and action for this text. I believe it is Luke’s desire to show in the midst of repentance and the coming Kingdom of God that God does not quit and is continually active no matter what the state of the day might be! Hence, Luke in his brilliant writing style, inserts for us a story about Jesus’ authority on such a day as the Sabbath. Not only does he work and do so in the midst of the Temple, but he does it in a Holy Fashion that sets apart his authority to show that God’s Kingdom is reigning in the midst of everything.
If we look carefully here my friends, the notion of “work” is set to the back burner and the vision of Kingdom authority rises to the top! Here again, if we take on the argument of “work on the Sabbath,” I believe we have misread the passage and need to question more carefully the realm and reign of Christ in the midst of a world that is more consumed with “doing the work” rather than thinking about “how and why the work is done.” The how and why in this text is simply to illustrate the realm and the power that Jesus exhibits in a time where struggle and health need addressing!
Therefore my friends, the crux of this text is not about “working and/or healing on the Sabbath,”but it’s about the authority of Jesus reigning supreme in our lives even when we don’t ask Him to be present.
You see, our life is often dictated by our work when it should be dictated by the work of God in Christ Jesus in our life.
Come to the Table of Our Lord and receive the gift of life that continues to work in us all !!
AMEN & AMEN