Thursday, August 18, 2016

Luke 13:10-17 Healing on a Sabbath

KEY TEXT: Luke 13:15-17 Then the Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?"

KEY THOT: The ruler of the synagogue was upset that Jesus healed a woman bent over by a spirit of infirmity on a Sabbath: "There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day." (Luke 13:14). He was so upset that Jesus had broken the religious status quo that he could not rejoice that the woman whom Satan had bound for 18 long years has just been set free. Jesus rightly called such people "You hypocrites!” Religious hypocrisy is characterized by a tendency to get easily upset by people who break the religious status quo. Jesus is not known to mince words—he had no qualms about exposing their hypocritical attitude because it is opposed to God's work.

The reason why Jesus calls such people "hypocrites" is because they don't practise what they preach. When it comes to their own personal interests (like ensuring their ox or donkey didn't die of thirst), they happily break the rules of the Sabbath by leading them to the water-holes. We must be willing to review our religious traditions and rules to see if they are just there to maintain the status quo. Often they are actually opposed to faith and to the gospel when not derived from Scriptures. Rules that are godly are consistent and universal and will apply to every one in every situation, not just to certain situations, narrowly defined.

I heard once a very anti-praise and worship clergy who was vehemently opposed to using modern praise and worship songs in church services. He insisted that only classical European hymns were suitable for divine services. But at the same time, he confessed that privately, when he was off-duty, he enjoyed listening to punk rock music. I would call this religious hypocrisy. If modern rock music is not good for worship service, it's not good anywhere--whether one is off-duty or not.

In contrast, the ordinary folks who had no stake in maintaining the religious establishment “rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him” (Luke 13:17). What a difference in attitude! We must never forget what the gospel is supposed to do: viz., set captives free, open blind eyes, proclaim freedom and favour for all people (Luke 4:18-19). The gospel means release from captivity to false belief systems and false religious practices so that we can become more like Christ. That is the gospel of the kingdom. And such message is good news for everyone. 

Father, we thank You that Jesus came to set people free from demonic oppression and sinful addictions. Deliver us from all oppressive religious traditions that hinder Your work. Amen.

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