I just cannot get over Jesus’ calling this woman forward. Luke notes that Jesus was teaching in the synagogue. There was a woman there who had been sick for eighteen years because of an evil spirit, and she was bent over double. But the woman apparently did not come straight to Jesus. She did not speak for herself. Jesus was teaching, and then he stopped to call her over to him.
I wonder about that woman. Was she content to listen to the words of the great teacher? Was she, perhaps, waiting until Jesus was finished with his lesson to catch up with him and ask him for healing? Or was the woman outside an open-air synagogue, not even listening to Jesus when he saw her and called her over? All we know is that Jesus called this woman to a very short journey that, in her bent-over state, was probably difficult and possibly embarrassing. Was this rabbi going to use her as an example to illustrate some sort of point about people getting what they deserve? Just how had she gotten that evil spirit eighteen years ago anyway? No! The rabbi from Nazareth traveled with healing in his wings (see Malachi 4:2). And so, at the end of her short journey to the center of the synagogue, she began another journey of glorifying God with a healed body.
The Gospels are full of stories of Jesus’ going to people: the Syro-Canaanite woman (see Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30), the Samaritan woman at the well (see John 4:1-42), and Jairus’s daughter (see Luke 8:40-56). And yet, Jesus called this woman, possessed for almost two decades, to come to the center of the crowd so that Jesus could straighten her out. I wonder if Jesus is calling any of us on short journeys of faith so that we can experience the healing we need.
Lord, we know that you come to us always. When you call us to you, help us respond with faith. Amen.
The readings in Jeremiah and Psalm 71 are repeated in a pair from earlier in the year (January 24–30). They describe the authors’ confidence that God has had plans for their lives since even before they were born. God similarly knows each one of us and has a calling on our lives. The reading in Hebrews gives us confidence in the permanence of the kingdom of God, to which we have access through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We are not to take this lightly; we should worship God with due respect. In a synagogue on the sabbath, Jesus teaches a lesson about mercy. When he encounters a woman in need, he places her need above religious regulations. If religious traditions trump mercy, then our priorities are out of alignment.
Read Jeremiah 1:4-10. How can you trust God to empower you to follow God’s call? How can you encourage others to live into their calling?
Read Psalm 71:1-6. How can you continually praise God as your refuge?
Read Hebrews 12:18-29. How do you discern what is required of you in praising God in the new covenant?
Read Luke 13:10-17. How do you observe the sabbath now? What sabbath practice might you start that puts God’s reign into action?
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