Jesus heals on the Sabbath… again. And the religious leaders get angry because he broke the rules. This is a classic.
At the beginning of the story we see something really powerful. The crippled woman doesn’t seek out Jesus for healing. Her friends don’t carry her to Jesus, or make a ruckus so Jesus be forced to respond to them. Instead we see Jesus call to her. It is an absolutely poignant moment of good news. It is a clear reminder that in our brokenness God continues to call to us, desiring to heal us. God does not simply leave us abandoned to our sinful proclivities.
But the religious leader really catches my eye this week. The dangers of losing sight of the main thing are displayed clearly when he tells Jesus that Jesus shouldn’t be healing on the Sabbath. Lots of us would benefit from taking more care with the practices of faith, whether it be resting one day in seven, praying and fasting regularly, giving of our stuff and time, but these things are not ends to themselves. This danger stalks us too. We forget that these are things set us free, not practices to imprison us. But we treat them like practices that are hardships designed to imprison us and others. The key is when in the midst of these practices to remember the main thing. That it is for freedom we have been set free from the tyranny of sin and death. We don’t earn salvation by following a set of spiritual practices, but they can help us to experience that freedom if we let them hold a proper place in our lives. This is what Jesus is getting at in his statement about the woman being set free on the Sabbath.