Luke 13 verses 15 & 16. “The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”


When people like this synagogue ruler speak or pass an opinion, others sometimes think they should keep quiet. They feel intimidated by the experts. But this display of hypocrisy was immediately confronted by Jesus. The objector and his kind happily released their oxen from the stalls and led them to water on the Sabbath – on the grounds that it was a necessary act of mercy.


But here before them was a human being in great need. Even more, she was a daughter of Abraham. She was part of the covenant community but for years she had been bound by Satan and could not lift her eyes to Heaven. All she could do was shuffle through each day in terrible bondage. According to this synagogue ruler, there was mercy for animals but not for her.


This is what religion does. Religion without Christ is mere legalism and in this instance, legalistic Religion has placed on the broken back of this poor woman burdens impossible to carry (Read Luke 11 v 46). Thus Christ releases this woman on the Sabbath day. The ruler of the synagogue and his friends were covered with confusion and humiliation, but the whole congregation was delighted with all the wonderful things Christ was doing.


Now think about the Sabbath day for a moment. Although there were indeed rules and regulations surrounding this day, it was never intended to be a burden but a delight. The Sabbath was meant to teach people that true rest comes from trust in God alone. It was not merely a physical thing but it also had a spiritual dimension. True rest is ultimately found in Christ who gives us rest for our souls (Matthew 11 v 28). That state of soul rest should be accompanied by joy and deeds of mercy and kindness. Thus it was most appropriate that Jesus delivered this woman on the Sabbath day.


To adopt a view of the Sabbath such as the synagogue ruler had, was tantamount to perverting the good news. The world is full of attempts at perverting the Gospel that sets people free. Christ was always opposed to this in His own day. We should be opposed to it in our day.


We close with the words of the apostle Paul in Galatians 5 v 1

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”