Week 98, Section 110 in the Harmony of the Gospels
As Jesus healed some on the Sabbath, some Pharisees accused Him of breaking the Sabbath. In today’s study we’ll explore further Jesus the Healer and His Miracles,1 and also the rabbinical tradition called the Halakah (preserved in the Mishnah) that lay behind the Sabbath-breaking charges leveled against Jesus and His disciples.
Podcast: scheduled for October 14, 2016
Section 110 | Opposition from a Synagogue Ruler for Healing a Woman on the Sabbath
10 He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath day. 11 Behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years. She was bent over, and could in no way straighten herself up. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her, and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.” 13 He laid his hands on her,2 and immediately she stood up straight and glorified God. 14 The ruler of the synagogue, being indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath,3 said to the multitude, “There are six days in which men ought to work. Therefore come on those days4 and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day!” 15 Therefore the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites!5Doesn’t each one of you free his ox or his donkey from the stall on the Sabbath, and lead him away to water? 16 Ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham whom Satan had bound eighteen long years, be freed from this bondage on the Sabbath day?”6 17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were disappointed and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.7 18 He said, “What is God’s Kingdom like? To what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and put in his own garden. It grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the sky live in its branches.” 20 Again he said, “To what shall I compare God’s Kingdom? 21 It is like yeast, which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.”
- Why do you think that Luke might have been motivated to include this story when none of the other Gospel writers did so?
- What are the words of the Fourth Commandment and the reasoning behind it (Exodus 20:8; 9-11)?
- Was Jesus breaking the law, tradition or justifying his behavior by the guilt of the Pharisees?
- How is it especially appropriate that the woman be healed on the Sabbath? (Luke 13:16)
- If he had made mud to heal her rather than praying might it have been a violation of the law?
- What do you know about the other healing stories, and any similarities?
- Jesus referred to the woman as “a daughter of Abraham”. As a “child of God” do you have any physical, emotional, spiritual need, illness, or oppression from which you’d like to be freed? Write it down and if you feel comfortable, share it with you group at the end of the study so that others may pray for your healing.
- Download the OSL reference of Jesus’ healings and miracles.
- The law aimed to define what should be considered “work” or a “burden”; Generally, a burden was anything as heavy as a dried fig but there were other considerations as well.
- The principle of the Sabbath was hewn from the creation story (Genesis 2:23; Ex 20:8), but it was Moses who who declared it a day of resting from the harvesting of manna (Exodus 16:23) from which later additional commandments were added (Ex 23:12; 31:15; 35:3; Lev 23:3). However, if human life was in danger then it was acceptable to work on the Sabbath. This rule (pikuah nephesh – to “save life”) is maintained today by observant Jewish doctors and nurses who are allowed to go to work on Saturday in order to save a life. But in Jesus day, certain types of medicine were not allowed – especially those that required the fresh grinding of grain or mulling which was considered work.
- By the story back in Section 43 (Mt. 8:16; Mk 1:32; Lk 4:40) it appears that at least once (if not more often than that) people came to Jesus for healing on other day or after sunset so as to honor the Sabbath as was their custom.
- Its important here to know also that the law of allowed the devout Jew to do what they can to prevent suffering to living things – even on the Sabbath (tzar baalei hayim). Ironically, as the Pharisees refined the behaviors required to adhere to the Decalogue the were in fact breaking the law, as it was written – “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take anything from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32). Their tradition placed “heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders” (Matthew 23:4). Joachim Jeremias (1900-1979), the German Lutheran Theologian and Professor of New Testament Theology, affirms that among the Pharisees, their own oral tradition was above the Torah (Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus, pp. 236, 238-239) and that their rule was above that of the Sadducees (pp 264). This stands is in agreement with many other scholars including Alfred Edersheim, who himself was a Jewish convert to Christianity (The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book I, 1.98).
- See paraphrase in The Message: “You frauds! Each Sabbath every one of you regularly unties your cow or donkey from its stall, leads it out for water, and thinks nothing of it. So why isn’t it all right for me to untie this daughter of Abraham and lead her from the stall where Satan has had her tied these eighteen years?” (MSG)
- On a Sabbath day early in His ministry (Section 39 Luke 4:18-19).