Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses ten through twenty-one of the thirteenth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find Jesus in an arena that was all too familiar to Him. As you approach the tenth verse of this thirteenth chapter of the gospel written by Luke you will find Jesus in the synagogue where He routinely and regular was. What’s more, is that throughout the life and ministry of Jesus you will find Him in the synagogue on the sabbath day, and more often than not He would be teaching the people in the synagogue. What is actually quite interesting and unique about the various accounts of Jesus in the synagogues is that more often than not Jesus would find a way to offend people while present within them. Pause for a moment and consider the reality that the very Som of God and the living embodiment of the glory and person of the Father would be present in the synagogue and yet you would think that His time within them would be filled with awe and wonder. While it is true that there were times when Jesus would be in the synagogue that the people would be amazed and astonished at His doctrine, there would be multiple times when Jesus’ actions therein would offend the sensibilities, the rules and the traditions of the religious leaders therein. Pause for a minute and consider the reality that the very presence of Jesus could be present within the synagogue and places of worship, and while His teaching might have amazed and astonished those who were present, His actions would somehow offend those who were present. It’s actually quite astounding and remarkable to think about and consider the fact that Jesus could be present within the synagogue and house of worship, and while men might have been amazed and astonished with and by His words, they could be offended with and by His actions. It was possible that Jesus could be present within the synagogue and house of worship, and could even teach and speak the words of life, and yet He could find a way of offending those who were present therein. It was possible for Jesus the living Word of God to be present within the meetings and gathering together within the synagogue, and yet He could find a way to offend those who we’re present within the synagogue itself. If you take the time to read and study the gospels you will find that note often than not Jesus would enter into the synagogue and would teach therein—as was His custom—and yet His actions would offend those who were present in the midst of the synagogue.
As I sit here this morning I can’t help but be gripped and captivated with and by the fact that Jesus the Christ could not only amaze and astonish those present within the synagogue, but He could also find a way to somehow offend and make angry the religious leaders who were present in the midst. Time and time again you will read of Jesus being present within the synagogue, and you will find Him teaching the people who were present therein, however, you will also find that Jesus would offend the religious leaders because of His willingness to help people who were present in the midst of it. It’s actually quite remarkable and astonishing to think that mite often than not the people within the synagogue were willing to hear and listen to the words which Jesus would teach, however, when it came to His actually helping those who were in need in the midst of the synagogue, the rulers and leaders would grow angry and upset with Jesus. More often than not Jesus would be in the synagogue on the sabbath day, and would be teaching in their midst, and yet there in the midst of the teaching He would see a need that was present before Him—one that could not be ignored or overlooked. In fact, the passage we find before us today is one such occurrence when Jesus would be present within the synagogue on the sabbath day, and would have undoubtedly been teaching among them in their midst, and yet on this particular day there was a need that manifested and presented itself. On this particular day Jesus would be present in the synagogue on the sabbath day, and would undoubtedly be teaching those who would be present in the midst of it, and yet there would appear before Him a need which was so great that He simply had to act. Imagine the scene as Jesus would be teaching in the synagogue on the sabbath day, and someone walked in with such a great need that He could not walk away from it, nor could she ignore it. This actually brings me to an important question concerning our gathering together, and that is how many times we are aware of a need—or even needs before and among us in the house of the Lord—and yet we choose to walk away from and even ignore the need. How many times have we been confronted with a need so great in our midst, and yet we choose not to act upon that need, and instead choose to overlook it?
One of the most interesting and astounding realities surrounding the four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ is that more often than not we would find Jesus in the synagogue on the sabbath day. More often than not we would find Jesus present in the synagogue on the sabbath day, and in fact teaching the people who were present in the house on that particular day. There was at least one instance and occurrence when the people were astonished and amazed at His words, His doctrine and His teaching, and scripture leaves it at that. There are other times, however, when you will read the four gospels and will find that even in the midst of the astonishment and amazement at the words and doctrine of Jesus there was a hostility, an anger and offense at Jesus because of the actions He performed while present in the midst of the people. What’s more, is that there was at least one time when the words which Jesus spoke in the midst of THR synagogue, and those words offended and angered those who were present in the midst of it. The account I speak of is actually recorded earlier on in this New Testament gospel of Luke, and is found in the fourth chapter. If you turn and direct your attention to the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke you will encounter Jesus within His hometown of Nazareth, and more specifically, being present within the synagogue on the sabbath day. It would be on this particular day when not only would Jesus be present within the synagogue, but you will also find Jesus being given a scroll from which to read from before all the people. What actually marks this particular encounter as incredibly unique is when you consider the fact that even though Jesus was present in the synagogue, and even though Jesus was present in the synagogue among the people who knew Him the best, and even though He was in the synagogue and would speak in the hearing of all those who were present therein, He would ultimately end up offending the people which were present in the midst of it. Consider if you will the words which describe this encounter as written by the beloved physician Luke beginning with the fourteenth verse of the fourth chapter:
“And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of Him through all the region round about. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up: and, as His custom was, he spent into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Essie’s. And when He had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And He closed the book, and gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on Him. And He began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. And He said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in His own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Serepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust Him out of the dirty, and led Him unto the brow of the hill wherein their city was built, that they might cast Him down headlong. But He passing through the midst went His way, and came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days. And they were astonished at His doctrine: for His word was with power” (Luke 4:14-32).
It is absolutely necessary and important that we begin with this particular passage found within the New Testament gospel written by Luke, for this is the first instance where we find Jesus entering into and being present within the synagogue. It is within this particular passage of scripture we find Jesus in the synagogue, and being in the synagogue on the sabbath day, and how on this day there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. What’s worth noting is that Jesus specifically and deliberately located the words which we know to be found in the sixty-first chapter of this Old Testament prophetic book, and read from the words which were contained therein. What’s more, is that Jesus only took a verse or two from this particular portion within the prophetic book of Isaiah, and then after He had sat down, and after the eyes of all those who were present in the midst of the synagogue were fastened on Him, He opened His mouth and began to declare unto them that on that day the words of the prophet were fulfilled in their hearing. It’s worth noting that initially those who were present in the midst of the synagogue wondered, and were perhaps amazed and astonished at the gracious words which proceeded forth from His mouth. This wonder and amazement at the gracious words which Jesus spoke would not last, and would in fact be short lived, for Jesus would go on to declare unto them that no prophet is received and accepted in his own country. What’s more, is that Jesus would go on to say and declare unto them that they would say and declare unto him the parable “Physician heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.” Essentially that which Jesus was declaring unto those who were present in the midst of the synagogue on this day was that those present within the town of Nazareth would eventually speak unto Him and desire of Him that He would do among them in their midst the mighty works which He would do in the midst of Capernaum. While a prophet is not and would not be received in his own country, and while this was in fact a statement of Jesus that He Himself would not be received in His own country, that particular country would not experience the mighty works and power of God which was manifested in the surrounding towns, villages and cities. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that Nazareth was the hometown of Jesus, for Jesus grew up in Nazareth, and spent the first thirty years of His life present therein, and yet it would be in this particular town where the people therein would grow and become offended with Him. It would be in the midst of this particular town—that town and those people who were the most familiar with Jesus the Christ—which would as it would seem on the outside looking in. In all reality, the words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto those present within His hometown of Nazareth in the synagogue were an indictment of the hardness of their heart, an indictment of their unbelief, and even an indictment of their familiarity with Jesus the Christ for so many years. For thirty years Jesus grew up in the town of Nazareth and was known as Joseph the carpenter’s son, and yet now we find Him standing in the midst of the synagogue and teaching the people.
The account(s) of Jesus within the synagogues located within and throughout Judaea must in fact begin with this single encounter and with this single experience, for it would be this particular occurrence3 which would set the stage for a number of other encounters which Jesus would have within the synagogues within the land. Scripture makes it clear and seems to indicate that this particular occurrence of Jesus in the synagogue within His hometown of Nazareth was the first time He would be present in the synagogue. What’s more, is that it is interesting and unique that the beloved physician Luke writes and records in this chapter and passage that after Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee from being tempted of the devil in the wilderness for forty days, there’s ent out a fame concerning Him through the region round about. What’s more, is that Luke goes on to write and record how Jesus would teach in their synagogues, and would be glorified by all. In what could essentially be considered and described as “a circuit of synagogues,” Jesus would enter into the synagogue which was located within His hometown of Nazareth—into the synagogue which was located in His hometown where the people therein knew Him the most. It would be while Jesus was present in the synagogue in the town of Nazareth that He would read from the book of Isaiah, would declare unto them that the words of the prophet would be fulfilled in their hearing, and would then indict them for their familiarity, and even the hardness of their heart and unbelief. Jesus would speak unto them and declare how although there were many widows present within the land of Israel during the days of the prophet Elijah, the prophet was sent only to a widow in a town called Zerephath, which was located in the region of Sidon. What’s more, is that Jesus would go on to describe how there were many lepers within he land of Israel during the days of the prophet Elisha, and yet only Naaman the Syrian general would be healed of his leprosy. Essentially that which Jesus was stating and declaring unto those which were present in His hometown was that despite there being a great need within and among them in their midst, it would be those on the outside who would find themselves experiencing the mighty works and power of God. It was true that there were many widows in the land of Israel during the days of Elijah, yet the Lord sent the prophet with a word of provision and blessing unto a widow who wasn’t even a daughter of Israel, and didn’t even reside the land of Israel. There were many lepers present in the land of Israel during the days of the prophet Elisha, and yet instead of sending the prophet Elisha unto the lepers of Israel with a word of healing and cleansing, He would use Him to bring healing and cleansing to Naaman a Syrian general who wasn’t even a son of Israel, nor did he even reside in the land of Israel.
I can’t help but be gripped and captivated with and by the various different accounts of Jesus teaching within the synagogues located within the land of Judaea, for while it was true that there were times when those present in the midst of the synagogue were astonished and amazed at His doctrine, there were other times when in addition to teaching from the Scripture in their hearing, he would choose to minister to the need(s) which were before Him. How absolutely wonderful and incredible it is to think and consider the reality that while it was true Jesus would enter into the synagogue and would teach the word of God, He would do so much more than simply speak and teach from the scripture. It was true that He who had the words of life would teach in the synagogues on the sabbath day, however, time and time again there would be examples of Jesus becoming aware of the needs which were before Him, and would choose to minister to those needs. It wasn’t enough for Jesus to simply teach within the synagogue, for Jesus would also find a need present therein, and would bring healing, wholeness and deliverance to the individual who had that need. What amazes me about Jesus the Christ is that more often than not He found a way to anger and offend the religious leaders of His day simply because He chose to engage the needs of others on the sabbath day. The sabbath—you will recall from the Old Testament—was a day that was specifically set aside and ordained by God as holy and consecrated unto Him, and was to be a day of rest. Within the Old Testament—both in the Old Testament book of Genesis, as well as in the books of Exodus and Leviticus—we find the sabbath day being ordained as the seventh day in the week where men and women would rest from all their labors. For six days the people of Israel were to do their works, but on the seventh day they were to cease from all their labors, and were to cease from all their works and simply rest. This concept is actually quite important, for in order to understand that which so angered and offended the religious leaders during the days of Jesus was His willingness to essentially “work” on the sabbath day. This particular event which is found in the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke is no exception to this rule, for as you read that which is contained therein, you will find the ruler of the synagogue growing indignant and offended with Jesus because of His willingness to heal on the sabbath. ON this particular day Jesus would not only teach among the people in the midst of the synagogue, but Jesus would also become away of a need that was present therein, and would not only choose to acknowledge that need, but would also choose to meet that need. As you read this particular passage of Scripture you will notice that what angered the ruler of the synagogue so much was the fact that there were six days with which to work and the seventh was to be a day when no work was being done. This is actually quite interesting when you think about it, for even the very operation of the synagogue would require and involve work, for the events which took place therein would require the help, assistance and effort of those who were present in the midst thereof.
Before I get into that which is written and found within the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke, I feel it necessary to turn our attention back to the sixth chapter of this New Testament gospel written by Luke. If you begin reading with and from the sixth verse of the sixth chapter of this New Testament gospel you will not only find Jesus entering into a synagogue, but you will find Him teaching in the midst of the synagogue. What’s more, is that while it was true that Jesus entered into the synagogue, and while it was true that Jesus taught among them, there was a certain amount of suspicion toward Jesus. As you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will notice that Jesus entered into the synagogue on another sabbath and taught, and there was present in the midst of the synagogue a man whose right hand was withered. Luke goes on to write and describe how the scribes and Pharisees watched Jesus to see whether or not he would in fact heal on the sabbath day, that they might might an accusation against Him. How incredibly interesting and unique it is to think about and consider the fact that Jesus could be present in the midst of the synagogue, and Jesus could even teach the word of God among them in their hearing and in their presence, and yet there would be suspicion toward Him concerning His actions. Jesus was present within the synagogue on this particular day, and Jesus would teach in the midst thereof, yet there would be a need present among them—a need which would be present on the sabbath day. NEEDS DON’T HONOR THE SABBATH! NEEDS DON’T CARE THAT IT’S THE SABBATH! NEEDS DON’T TAKE A DAY OFF ON THE SABBATH DAY! SICKNESS DOESN’T TAKE A SABBATH DAY’S REST! Perhaps one of the most interesting and intriguing realities and concepts within this passage of Scripture is that it brings us face to face with the awesome reality that just because there are six days with which to work, and a seventh day with which to rest from all our labors—that doesn’t mean that needs take a day off on the sabbath day. If there is one thing this particular passage reveals to those who read it, it’s that despite the fact that men were instructed to rest from their labors on the sabbath day, the needs which are present within the lives of men and women have no such instruction or command. It was true that men and women within the land of Israel were instructed to rest from their labors and from their works and efforts on the sabbath day, however, no such instruction was given unto the needs which were present within he lives of men and women. The needs which were present within the lives of men and women would be present and would manifest themselves regardless of whether or not it was the sabbath day or not. Even though men and women might rest from their labors and from their works, it was possible that in their rest they would find themselves in a place of need and desperation.
IN THE PLACE OF REST DESPERATION ARISES! IN THE PLACE OF REST THE NEEDS OF MEN TAKE CENTER STAGE! As I am sitting here this morning I can’t help but think about the sabbath day, and how while it is true the sabbath day was to be a day of rest from all our labors, all of our works, and all our efforts, it would be in the absence of works, in the absence of labors and efforts the needs of men would take center stage. Consider the fact that when most within the land of Israel would rest from their labors and would not do work, it would undoubtedly cause many to enter into the synagogue to hear the words which were taught therein. During the days and time of Jesus we find Jesus present in the synagogue and teaching among them in their midst. What’s more, is that it would be in the place of rest—the place of rest from labor and works—that the needs of men would become more visible and more apparent. This particular occasion was no different, for while Jesus was teaching in this synagogue there would be a man with a withered hand. What’s more, is that there is absolutely no indication this man sought and desired anything of Jesus. There is absolutely no indication found within this particular account within the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke that this man sought and desired anything of Jesus. In fact, I would dare say that what caused Jesus to heal the right hand of this man which was withered was the suspicion of the scribes and Pharisees who watched Him to see whether or not He would heal on the sabbath. It would be the need of this man coupled together with the suspicion of the scribes and Pharisees, and their need and desire to accuse Jesus that would actually grant Jesus the freedom to bring healing and wholeness into this man’s life. Consider if you will the words which are found and recorded in the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke concerning this particular occasion beginning with the sixth verse of the sixth chapter:
“And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that He entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether He would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against Him. But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth. Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? To save life, or to destroy it? And looking round about upon them all, He said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And He did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other. And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus” (Luke 6:6-11).
The account of Jesus healing this man on the sabbath day is found both in the New Testament gospel of Matthew, as well as the New Testament gospel of Mark, and all three New Testament writers seek to bring us face to face with two distinct realities. The first is that needs and desperation do not take a sabbath day off, and Jesus is in fact willing to heal and to minister on the sabbath. As I sit here and consider that which is found within this particular event within the life and ministry of Jesus, I can’t help but be directly confronted with the fact that the needs of men do not take a sabbath day’s rest, nor do they cease simply because men rest from their labors, their efforts and their works. While it is true that men rest from their labors, rest from their works, and rest from their efforts on the sabbath, needs and desperation know such rest. Perhaps the single greatest realities which is found within this passage located within the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke, as well as that which is found in the thirteenth chapter of the same New Testament gospel is that the needs of men don’t care about the rules and traditions of men. The more I read, and the more I consider that which is found within this passage of Scripture, the more I can’t help but think that not only do needs not operate within the rules and traditions of men, but neither does Jesus Christ Himself operate within the confines and parameters of rules and regulations. We would like to think that the needs of men obey the rules and traditions of men, and yet this simply is not the case. Despite our best efforts, we cannot obligate the needs of men to our own rules and traditions. What’s more, is that we cannot confine the movement and operation of Jesus the Christ within the parameters of the rules and traditions we have set and established. What we find in the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke is in fact a truly wonderful picture that shows that not even Satan operates within the boundaries of the sabbath day. As you read the words which are found and contained within this passage of Scripture you will quickly find—not only that this woman was bound for eighteen years, but also that Satan did bind this woman for those eighteen years with this spirit of infirmity. Please don’t miss the incredible significance and importance of this, for as surely as the needs of men and as surely as Jesus Christ Himself does not operate within the confines of our rules and regulations, neither does Satan move and operate within the borders and boundaries of our rules and traditions. We would like to think that the needs of men take a day off on the sabbath day, and that even Satan would take a rest from oppressing men and women, however, this simply is not the case. Consider if you will that which is found within this passage of Scripture beginning with the tenth verse:
“And He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And He laid His hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? And when He had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoice for all the glorious things that were done by Him” (Luke 13:10-17).
Within this passage of Scripture we clearly see that not only was this woman bound by Satan with a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years, but this need manifested itself on the sabbath day—manifested itself on a day when men and women were to cease from all their labors, works and efforts. Upon seeing this woman bowed over and unable to lift herself up, Jesus deliberately and intentionally chose to bring healing and deliverance into this woman’s life, and to once and for all loose her from the spirit of infirmity which bound her for eighteen years. What is quite interesting about the need of this woman, and the operation of Jesus on her behalf is that when the ruler of the synagogue saw Jesus heal this woman and deliver her from the oppression and bondage of Satan, he didn’t rebuke Jesus, nor did he speak to Jesus. If you read this passage correctly, you will find that while He was indignant with Jesus, he actually took it out on the people. This ruler dare not rail against Jesus, and dare not speak against Jesus, so he instead chose to take out his anger and frustration against the people. Heaven help us when the leaders within our churches take out their frustration with God on the people whom they are called to serve and lead. It is an absolutely dangerous game to play when religious leaders and those who are responsible for leading the flock take out their anger and their offense with God on the people, and criticize and indict them. This is particularly and especially true when it comes to the needs which are present within their hearts and lives, for you will notice that this ruler declared unto the people that there were six days with which to come and be healed, and instructed them to come on one of those days to be healed. So indignant and so frustrated with Jesus for healing this woman on the sabbath was this ruler that he actually criticized and condemned those present on that day for thinking they could enter into the synagogue on the sabbath day and find and receive healing in the presence of God. Oh, there is within this particular passage of Scripture a tremendous word of warning and word of caution toward and against any leader within the house of God who would dare take out their frustration and anger—even their anger and frustration with God—on the people whom they have been called to serve and lead. The ruler of this synagogue witnessed Jesus heal this woman and make her whole, and instead of criticizing Jesus, and instead of rebuking Jesus, he instead chose to condemn and indict the people. Instead of criticizing Jesus for healing on the sabbath which others would have done, and which others would do, this ruler took it out on the people, and essentially told them not to bring their needs on the sabbath. In all reality, this ruler might as well have told the people to leave stay home and not even come to the synagogue if they had a need within their hearts and lives.
Oh, please don’t miss the tremendous significance and impact of what is found within this passage, for that which the ruler was stating was that not only should needs take a day off on the sabbath, but if you were one who had a need—bring your need before the Lord during one of the other six days during the week, and not on the sabbath in the synagogue. What an absolutely an incredible dangerous game this ruler played with God, and with Jesus, for he did not recognize that not only do needs not take a day off on the sabbath day, but men and women have as much of a right to find healing and deliverance from their needs on the sabbath day as they do on any other day during the week. We must get it through our heads, and must understand that the needs of men have never and will never operate within the borders and parameters of our rules, our traditions, our agendas, our expectations, and our plans. We dare not think and believe for one minute that we can dictate how the needs of men manifest themselves among us in our midst, and we dare not think that Jesus cannot and will not manifest healing and deliverance outside the borders of the parameters we set within our lives, and even within the house of the Lord. Oh that we would relinquish any thought of controlling the sabbath, and even controlling any part of the services and meetings we hold and are a part of, and that we would fully and completely allow Jesus to operate with all authority and power the way He sees fit, and the way He desires. Oh that we would not stand in the way of the needs of men and the ministry of Jesus. Oh that we would take a lesson from. This ruler of the synagogue, and that we would never make any attempt to stand in between the needs of men, which mighty very well manifest themselves outside of our comfort zones, and outside of our agendas and boundaries, and would fully and completely allow Jesus to operate the way He desires and sees fit.