He was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath. And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect. When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.” He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath, said to the crowd in reply, “There are six days when work should be done. Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day.” The Lord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering? This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day from this bondage?” When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated; and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.Luke 13:10-17
Mercy on the Sabbath
What is the Sabbath if not a celebration of life and love?
God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.Genesis 2:3
On the seventh day, the sun, moon, stars, plants, birds, animals, fish, and humans blessed the Lord in a great chorus of praise. There is no hint that creatures were bound and parched in observance of God’s Sabbath rest.
The scribes and Pharisees had the common sense to feed and water their donkeys and oxen on the Sabbath. But when it came to healing and freeing the crippled woman in the synagogue, legalese entangled their complicated minds. Scrupulous laws about what constituted “work” caused the religious experts to overthink the simplicity of God’s heart.
Jesus’ homey comparison of his act of mercy to untying and watering an ox or ass drove the point home at once. Law, life, love, and mercy are synonymous.
Sabbath laws unbinding ox and ass
Free man and woman, laddie and lass.