The healing of the bent woman is a beautiful story of restoration. But just as the woman, who now stands up straight, begins to praise God, someone who thinks he’s honoring God dismisses her genuine worship. If we’re honest, this synagogue leader is not so different from us. He lives by religious rules and thinks that he is glorifying God by enforcing them. God has laid out a reasonable plan for living, he believes, and so he argues that all we have to do is get on board with it. Jesus was a threat to his worldview. If we’re still being honest, Jesus often upsets our way of seeing things.
The synagogue leader wants this woman to wait to be healed. Just one more day. Surely there’s no harm in that, he thinks. Of course, she’s been waiting a long eighteen years for this healing when Jesus meets her on the Lord’s Day. What better day is there for her new life to begin? What better day is there for any life, including the lives of those animals Jesus mentions (v. 15), to be unleashed and untied, to experience freedom?
Does the synagogue leader come around? Focusing on the rules for so long has made him miss the needs of the person right in front of him. And while rules are good for us when they provide boundaries, guidelines, and ways to measure our faithfulness, I’m thankful Jesus looks through them to focus on people who are bent, like this woman, like me and maybe you. God made rules to help people rather than harm them. That’s loving God’s plan. Even as I’m convicted to see myself in this synagogue leader, I find so much hope in this story. I’d like to think that all who hear Jesus’ response, both then and now, realize that love is the greatest law and the purpose of all the others.
What role do rules play in your walk with God?
Lord, help me seek the law of love for everyone I meet today. Amen.