12 May, 2022

April 24 | Perfect Action

by | 18 April, 2022 | 0 comments

Unit: Luke (Part 1)
 Perfect Humanity
Lesson Text: Luke 13:10-17; 14:1-6
Supplemental Text: Isaiah 49:13-16; Ephesians 4:32
Aim: Let your compassion for those who suffer move you to action, regardless of what other people think.

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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the Study by Mark Scott, Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions by Michael C. Mack): LOOKOUT_Apr24_2022.

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By Mark Scott

A secular proverb says, “Your actions are speaking so loudly that I cannot hear what you are saying.” Keep in mind that the person who spun that proverb used words to spin it. But who would disagree that wrong actions can undercut right words? Jesus’ gospel of love was backed up by his compassionate actions for the hurting. Many of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day failed to rejoice when the hurting were helped. The religion police were more interested in procedures than people.

This was especially true in the two miracle stories of our lesson texts. Jesus healed a woman who was crippled for 18 years, but instead of rejoicing, the synagogue leader publicly criticized Jesus and the apostles. Jesus healed a man of dropsy (edema), but the Pharisees remained silent and indifferent. In this travel section of Luke’s Gospel (chapters 9–19) we see a loose pattern of sign (miracle) and story (parable or encounter). In between these two miracles are three parables—about the mustard seed, yeast, and the narrow door—as well as a lament over Jerusalem and a rebuke of Herod.

A Crippled Woman Set Free (Luke 13:10-17)

Both narratives in our lesson texts occurred on a Sabbath. It is unclear when in Jesus’ final months of ministry these events happened. Jesus encountered a crippled woman in the context of his teaching. Luke used an economy of words to tell of her gender, the length and demonic nature of her pain (i.e., she had been crippled by a spirit), and the physical condition that made her unable to stand up straight.

Jesus called the woman forward and thus drew some attention to her disability. He spoke the words of liberation, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity(weakness or sickness).” Then he compassionately touched her. The miracle was instantaneous. Luke also recorded that she praised God, a typical thing the Gospel writer often would share.

The synagogue leader blew a gasket (indignant means to become quickly angry). He viewed healing as a Sabbath violation and dished out his criticism of Jesus and the apostles by speaking to the people. He based his critique on creation (Genesis 2:2). God rested on day seven of creation. Are we to assume healings were taking place outside of Jesus’ ministry from his remark, “Come and be healed on those days” or is that assuming too much?

Jesus quickly took the offensive. He labeled those who thought like the synagogue leader as hypocrites (play actors). Then he referenced how livestock were taken care of regardless of the day (Exodus 23:4-5; Deuteronomy 22:4). Finally, he vindicated the poor woman, who surely overheard this debate. He referred to her as a daughter of Abraham (that meant she was an insider). He acknowledged that her problem was caused by the spirit world (which was something only Jesus could have known). He defended her being liberated on the Sabbath.

The religious police were humiliated (overcome or overpowered), but the people (crowd) were delighted (filled with joy). One certainly sees from this text the distance between the religious leaders and the people. Did Jesus’ perfect action help this desperate woman? Absolutely. Did Jesus care that he had offended the religious leaders? Not so much.

A Man with Dropsy Healed (Luke 14:1-6)

The first Sabbath miracle occurred in a synagogue. The second Sabbath miracle occurred in a prominent Pharisee’s house. The text said Jesus was being carefully watched, which might indicate the suffering man was planted there to be a point of controversy.

The New International Version interprets the man’s condition by saying he was suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. This is known as edema or dropsy. It amounts to “water swelling” (the meaning in the Greek word) in the body. Healing (ultimate rest) can take place on the Sabbath.

Jesus was no doubt burdened by the apathy of the religious elite. Twice in the text the reader’s attention is drawn to their indifference. They remained silent (v. 4), and they had nothing to say (v. 6). Silence was very cruel in this case. Jesus healed this man because of his compassion for the man and also for his anger at the Pharisees. That was why some of Jesus’ miracles were actually acts of war. Jesus’ arguments in the house and synagogue were similar. The argument could be summed up as “need leads.” Perfect action looks more to needs than rules.

Christian Standard

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