Healing on the Sabbath

Lord of the Bent and Burdened

Jesus said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:32

The woman needed a miracle, but she didn’t ask for one. She may have cowered in the back of the synagogue, hoping no one would notice she’d come that day. After all, who wanted to look at a disfigured woman, bent over and unable to straighten up? (Luke 13:11).

But Jesus saw her, and he called her to come forward. “Dear woman,” he said, “you are set free from your infirmity” (v. 12). And immediately she straightened her back and stood tall—something she hadn’t done for eighteen years.

She rejoiced. Most of the crowd was delighted. But the Pharisees were indignant. “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath,” they said (v. 14).

Once again the Pharisees missed the point. Jesus, the Messiah, was not bound by the Pharisees’ oppressive interpretations of and additions to the Mosaic Law. Compassion motivated Jesus to challenge the legalistic burden the Pharisees had lain on every Jew. [1] And compassion compelled Jesus to remove the woman’s physical burden that Sabbath day (v. 16).

Jesus came to set people free. Physical healings were visual signs of his power to free people from all that held them in bondage—especially the sin that separated them from God: “Through [Jesus] everyone who believes is set free from every sin” (Acts 13:39).

Are you, like the woman, cowering in the shadows—reluctant to even ask Jesus to remove your burden? Have years of experience with people like the Pharisees made you think you’re unworthy of Jesus’s attention, undeserving of his love?

Don’t focus on your burden or your critics. Look to Jesus. He is calling your name and beckoning you to come. Allow him to set you free. Then stand tall, rejoice, and share with others the life-transforming power and message of the Messiah.


Read Matthew 12:1–14. What did the Pharisees say about the Sabbath in this passage? What was Jesus’s response?

Read Isaiah 42:1–7 and 61:1–3. How did Jesus fulfill these prophecies about the Messiah?

Read Romans 14:13–23. The Pharisees were so focused on do’s and don’ts that they missed the salvation Jesus offered. What guidelines are given in this passage for handling disagreements about what Christians should and shouldn’t do?

Denise K. Loock

[1] The Pharisees had added “literally thousands of new commandments that were created to clarify the original 613 commandments” of the Mosaic Law. For example, to the Sabbath law, “39 separate categories of what ‘work’ meant were added that led to thousands of sub-rules,” including how many steps a person could take and how many letters could be written. http://www.pursuegod.org/rules-pharisees/

This devotion is part of a series, The Miracles of the Messiah.

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