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Thursday, 14 April 2016

Luke 13:10-17: I fought the Law

(Sorry. Yes, I know, I'm late today. Won't happen again.)

Jesus has another run in with the authorities, in the synagogue on a sabbath.

If it seems odd to you that anyone would object to him doing good, then you don't understand the place of the Law in Jewish thought. I'm not sure I do. If I witnessed a miracle in church on Sunday, I wouldn't be up in arms. I'd be gobsmacked, because my church isn't always exciting enough to generate a miracle a week, but I wouldn't be furious.

So why? What's the problem here?

The Law matters to Jewish people. It's God's gift, it shows why they are distinct and different from us Gentiles, and in the keeping of it there is great blessing. It's a great way to demonstrate your faith. Because, on the face of it, what's the point in obeying laws that are just plain awkward? Devout Jews won't open a fridge door on the sabbath, because that would turn a light on, and turning on a light is work. And you mustn't work on the sabbath.

How is that demonstrating faith? Well, it shows that you believe that God will bless you for your obedience, and you would rather receive that blessing from God than be thought of as sensible or conformist. Or to put it another way, what does it matter if non-Jews think you're weird? God sees, and God knows, and God will reward you.

I say all this to help me understand why the synagogue leader could be so ungracious towards a woman who had suffered so long. Actually, his argument doesn't stack up. He says, there are 6 perfectly acceptable days for you to come and be healed, so why come on the sabbath. He says it to a woman who has been ill for 18 years, for whom more than 5000 "acceptable healing days" have dragged past, and God never healed her on any of them, despite the fact that she is a good Jew, a daughter of Abraham.

It's easy to sympathise with Jesus, it's hard to get into the mind of the synagogue leader. Very hard.

Is my mind ever as closed as his seems to be?

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