Jesus Heals on the Sabbath

Except it wasn't a healing

Luke 13:10-17 (ESV)

Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.

There’s an important word-play here. When Jesus says, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” the Greek word for freed is “le-loo-oh.” When Jesus says, “Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it?” the Greek word for untie is “loo-oh,” which literally means “loose.” Then, when Jesus says, “And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” He uses “loo-oh” again.

So, all these things are some form of loosing. His point is that “loosing” is obviously OK on the Sabbath; they do it all the time. He’s also implying that this wasn’t a healing; it was an exorcism.

What is obvious to us now wasn’t obvious to the ruler of the synagogue then. He was indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath. So, Jesus shows that it wasn’t healing. In other situations, Jesus does heal on the Sabbath (see Luke 14:1-5) and defends that directly. But here He employs a different strategy.

It’s a nice bit of apologetic judo and it wins instantly. As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.

But His goal isn’t to win, or to embarrass his adversaries. It’s to dispose of a distraction quickly so that He can get back to the main message – the kingdom of God.

It’s like His whole life is one giant lens focusing everything on the kingdom of God.


We have a lens too – scripture and our daily devotional/prayer time. They focus us on kingdom things and help keep worldly cares from dominating our thinking.

How’s that working out for you? Are you able to “get away” for a while and give God your full attention? Or are daily devotions a duty you blow through as fast as you can?

If your quiet times aren’t what they should be, take a moment to reassess. Ask the Lord for help planning your QT. For some, also consider if your spouse needs help getting a genuine quiet time away from distractions.

If so, coordinate.


The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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