Lesson for March 22, 2020: Set Free (Luke 13:10-17, 31-35)
Lesson for March 22, 2020: Set Free (Luke 13:10-17, 31-35)

Dr. Mark Scott wrote this treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson. Scott teaches preaching and New Testament at Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri. This lesson treatment is published in issue no. 3 (weeks 9-12; March 1-22, 2020) of The Lookout magazine, and is also available online at www.lookoutmag.com.


Lesson Aim: Don’t be held captive by sin anymore because Christ has set you free!


By Mark Scott

Jesus is all about freedom (Isaiah 61:1; John 8:34-36; Romans 8:1, 2; Galatians 5:1). His ordination sermon in the Nazareth synagogue (Luke 4:16-30) made that very clear. He will not be dissuaded or derailed from his ministry of liberation.

The healing of the crippled woman and Jesus’ lament for Jerusalem take place in Luke’s travel narrative (Luke 9—19). These stories took place as Jesus was journeying to Jerusalem. This section of Scripture is filled with parables, hard-hitting teachings about discipleship, and encounters with people.

Satan’s Work | Luke 13:10-17

While traveling toward Jerusalem Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues (we don’t know where). On the Sabbath he encountered a woman who had been crippled (made weak or ill) by a spirit. We assume this was a demonic spirit since later in the text Jesus said that Satan did this to her. Satan’s work was to grind and bind. Jesus’ work was to liberate and set free. The woman’s condition had left her bent over and unable to straighten up (raised or awakened). Similar to what Jesus did with the man with the withered hand (Matthew 12:8-14; Mark 3:1-6), Jesus actually drew attention to her disability by calling her forward. First, he spoke to her. “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity (same word as earlier translated “crippled”). Then Jesus laid his hands on her. She straightened up and praised God. Luke is the Gospel of Messianic joy and often mentions this detail when people are healed.

Satan not only worked on the woman’s spine, he also worked in the religious leaders’ hearts. The synagogue leader was indignant (opposed). In contrast to Jairus, who pleaded for Jesus to raise his daughter (last week’s lesson), this leader was upset when Jesus “raised” the crippled woman. In fact, he went public with his criticism by suggesting that if people wanted to be healed they should come to be healed on some other day than the Sabbath. This seems to indicate that people were being healed outside of Jesus’ direct ministry.

Jesus went on the attack. He accused the leader of being a hypocrite (theater term in the ancient world meaning “play-actor”). He illustrated his point with a thirsty donkey and a thirsty ox. They need water even if it is the Sabbath. Jesus said that the woman had been kept bound (same word for the binding of Satan in Revelation 20:2). Jesus called the crippled woman a daughter of Abraham. That is the language of inclusion in the covenant family. In other words, she was in and the synagogue leader was out. Jesus reversed the criticism. The opponents (adversaries) were humiliated (shamed or disgraced). But the people were delighted with all that Jesus was doing.

Jesus’ Agenda | Luke 13:31-35

Jesus went on to teach in parables (mustard seed and leaven) and answered (sort of) Peter’s question about the number of people who will be saved. At some point in his journey (Luke 13:31), the Pharisees gave some advice to Jesus: “Leave . . . Herod wants to kill you.” It is difficult to know how to take their advice. Accurate truth—i.e. Herod was wanting to kill him? Genuine concern for Jesus? Feigned loyalty for Jesus? Deceiving Jesus into a movement that would be dangerous for him? Boldface lie?

Jesus would not let anything hinder his ministry of liberation. He had his own agenda. He used the metaphor of fox to describe Herod (a reference to Herod’s slyness). Jesus explained that he would cast out demons and heal people on his own timetable. Herod was not going to change that. Jesus would meet his goal on the third day. An immediate ministry goal that he would literally reach on the third day? A reference to reaching Jerusalem soon? A reference to the resurrection? It is an enigmatic statement. The point was that if Jesus did not get to Jerusalem to die on his own agenda no one would be set free.

It is important to understand that even though Jesus used strong language (e.g. hypocrites), he was not angry. When he spoke the name “Jerusalem” he reflected upon that great city of stone—something that he would do more than once (Matthew 23:37-39). His heart broke. He so wished that his people would turn to him similar to that of a hen gathering her chicks. But they refused. Therefore Jesus predicted a time when their house (temple) would be left to them desolate. He even predicted that the next time they saw him they would say, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” which did take place (Luke 19:28-40). Jesus stayed on task with his mission of setting people free.


Lesson study ©2019, Christian Standard Media. Print and digital subscribers are permitted to make one print copy per week of lesson material for personal use. Lesson based on the scope and sequence, ©2019 by Christian Standard Media. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.

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