Luke 13:10-17 (NIV) 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 ruler 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 his 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.
On verses 10-17: God had commanded the Jews to work six days and rest on the seventh (Exodus 20:8-11) so that their strength could be restored and their joy replenished. But the Pharisees and teachers of the law misinterpreted this command by teaching that even things like praying for a sick person’s healing was considered “work” and could only be done during the first six days but not on the seventh. Infected by the Pharisees’ teaching, the synagogue ruler publicly rebukes Jesus for healing a woman who was crippled by an evil spirit for 18 years.
Jesus responds by showing the silliness and hypocrisy of the Pharisees’ teaching. To paraphrase Jesus, “On the Sabbath you untie your ox or donkey and give it water, don’t you? Why is that not work and okay to be done on the Sabbath, but setting a woman free from bondage is work and forbidden on the Sabbath?” Verse 17 suggests that the synagogue ruler and all those who ascribed to the Pharisees’ Sabbath rules were starting to realize how silly those rules were, while the rest of the people were delighted by what Jesus was doing.
What can we learn from this?
1. We need wisdom to know how to interpret and apply God’s Word. God’s Word is always good and helpful, but when we don’t interpret or apply God’s Word correctly or wisely, it can lead to tragic results. That’s why we need to ask God for wisdom to know how to interpret and apply God’s commands.
2. Here we see the tragedy of legalism. Legalism causes us to focus on little things at the expense of missing the big picture. Legalism causes us to focus on man-made rules at the expense of missing God’s heart.
3. Satan wants to steal, kill and destroy our lives, keeping us in bondage as long as he can. Jesus came to set us free. No matter how long you have been in bondage, Jesus can set you freeby faith in His power, love and truth.
Luke 13:18-21 (NIV) 18 Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.” 20 Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? 21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
On verses 18-21: What is the point of the two pictures Jesus gives here for the kingdom of God? Jesus’ point is that, like a mustard seed which is one of the smallest seeds you can plant, or like a little bit of yeast mixed into dough, the kingdom of God starts off small but over time grows until it fills its entire environment and impacts those around it in a positive way.
That’s what happened with Christianity. At the time when Jesus said these words, Christianity was a small movement that started with 12 ordinary, unschooled men following a man whose public ministry lasted only 3 years. Two thousand years later, Christianity has become the largest faith the world has ever seen with billions of followers. The mustard seed has grown into the largest tree.
So whether it’s the kingdom of God in your own life, or in your church, or in your ministry, don’t despise small beginnings. God has greater things in store.
Heavenly Father, thank You that wisdom comes from You. I pray for great wisdom, that I would know how I should live and how to interpret and obey Your commands. May I not be a slave to legalism, may not sweat the small stuff, but may Your love and Your truth set me free. Let Your kingdom come and grow within me. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!