Read Luke 13:1-17
14 But the leader in charge of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath day. “There are six days of the week for working,” he said to the crowd. “Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath.”
15 But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water?
I have heard this story and read it countless times over the years. The situation is obvious. Jesus healed a woman on the Sabbath, which was against the rules. The people in charge had defined healing as “work”, and work was forbidden on the Sabbath. So, the leader of the synagogue confronts Jesus regarding his blatant ignorance of the rules. To this point I have always read this story with an understanding that Jesus is always available and never stops working. I have found comfort in that. There is a tension that stirs in me, however, when I consider what it looks like to follow Jesus’ lead. If I am to pattern my life after Jesus and live in the same rhythm that he has established, does this mean that I too need to work tirelessly as well? If it does, then there is an even greater tension because it is exactly opposite of the rhythm of creation that God established from the dawn of creation. Agggh! So what do I do with this tension?
Well, this morning something else jumped out at me. When confronted, Jesus could have made his case in any number of ways. If it was me I would have probably said something like, “I’m the Son of God you dope! I’m pretty sure I know what I’m doing here.” Thankfully for everyone Jesus holds that position, not me. Anyway, Jesus responds to his accuser by pointing out a very simple and obvious task that many (or most) people would do even on the Sabbath day and says, “Each of you works on the Sabbath day!” Jesus rebuts this leader by pointing out a task that everyone does… one which this leader (or anyone else) would likely have said was not work at all. Maybe that was the point. Maybe this isn’t about living an impossible rhythm and trying to find a way to work tirelessly. Maybe the point is that for Jesus, healing isn’t work. Maybe healing is better defined as an expression of who Jesus is than it is something Jesus does. Jesus never stops being who he is, and neither should we. In Jesus, we are who we are no matter what. No matter when. That which flows from our identity doesn’t stop, on the Sabbath or any other time of rest and abiding. It’s not work. It is who we are.