Have you ever heard the phrase “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory?” Probably you have heard it the other way around – to speak of gaining a win, just when it looked like a loss was about to happen.
Here in Luke 13, Jesus heals a woman who was crippled for 18 years by the presence of a spirit. It is incredible, she praises God for the healing, and all of the people have witnessed a miracle.
This is done in a synagogue on a Sabbath. Synagogues were the local gathering places for Jewish people all around the world. There was a ruler in place, a fellow who would be in charge of a variety of deeds related to the place and its ministry. A part of that involved assigning speakers to give a teaching sense of the meaning of whatever prescribed Scripture passages were read that day. Likely he either asked, or at least allowed Jesus to speak. And he likely had some hesitations while giving in to the crowd gathered who were focused on Jesus.
Sure enough, Jesus steals the show. It would be sort of like running a weekend music club, only to have a guest travelling through town outshine you and everyone else you featured regularly. Professional jealousy.
So the synagogue ruler tries to discredit the deed by the only thing he can come up with on the spot – that it was wrong for this to be done on the Sabbath, that is was working. Yep, it’s pretty silly … especially since there were Rabbinic teachings and allowances for dealing with animals and their needs on this day of the week.
Detractors from God’s work have been in every generation. Here on the occasion of the death of Billy Graham at age 99 with all that comprised his amazing life, while most articles rightly honor his legacy, there are a couple that mock him as a fraudulent and self-possessed scam artist. Wow! But it is not surprising. The world is full, has been full, will always be full of those who condemn God’s work. They are the ones who are self-possessed, having no room to serve anyone higher than themselves. This should not shock us or discourage us from continuing to do what is correct.
Luke 13:10 – On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 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. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.
14 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.”
15 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? 16 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?”
17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.