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Friends in Christ Weekly Message
August 24, 2013

     He was teaching in one of the meeting places on the Sabbath. There was a woman present, so twisted and bent over with arthritis that she couldn't even look up. She had been afflicted with this for eighteen years. When Jesus saw her, he called her over. “Woman, you're free!” He laid hands on her and suddenly she was standing straight and tall, giving glory to God.
     The meeting-place president, furious because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the congregation, “Six days have been defined as work days. Come on one of the six if you want to be healed, but not on the seventh, the Sabbath.”
     But Jesus shot back, “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?”
     When he put it that way, his critics were left looking quite silly and red-faced. The congregation was delighted and cheered him on.

Luke 13:10-17 (Message*)

To 21st century Christians, it may seem obvious that the authority figure in this story was out of line and not seeing things right. But of course the story is familiar to us.

The basic idea of the Sabbath is to set aside time to rest and rejuvenate, and to worship and give thanks to God. It isn't that idea that Jesus is criticizing. The problem here is that it was implemented with a whole set of rules which inadvertently prohibited something which it didn't really make sense to prohibit. The underlying motives of Sabbath observance rules were good, but the result was a legalistic observance rather than a Spirit-led one.

The lesson for us is not in the specific, but in the danger of a rigid approach to doing something that is basically good rather than what seems like a more difficult approach of listening to the Spirit continually for guidance on what is right in the situations we encounter. Where do we have rigid ideas, not necessarily formal rules, that may be a barrier to us truly listening and responding to the Spirit? Are we aware that sometimes our biggest challenges in faithfulness are not in obvious sins, but in a misplaced confidence in our own ideas about what is right? Are we building a relationship with God which results in us being more and more responsive to the Spirit?

Bill Samuel

* The Message version ©2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.

©2013 Friends in Christ, Inc.

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Document last modified on Saturday, 31-Aug-2013 20:21:42 EDT