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Two bent people in church

Now he [Jesus] was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” Luke 13: 10-14

What happens in churches in Jersey? On Sundays in churches in Jersey?

Have a good read of the words in bold above. In Jesus’ day in Israel there were many synagogues but only one Temple. The Temple was in Jerusalem. None of the synagogues had an altars – they were places where folk met to hear the Scriptures read and taught. Synagogues were similar to our Jersey churches save that folk sat on all four sides of the room so as to see one another and what went on in the middle…

In this particular synagogue, on this particular Sabbath day, we find an angry ruler of the synagogue. He is angry because Jesus has healed a bent-over woman – she is now straight and upright – she is there in front of them all – she had been crippled for 18 years.

He says “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” If someone said that to you in church this Sunday would you not bring all your friends to be healed on all of those six days? The only problem was that such healings never ever happened on any day of the week – save on that one day when Jesus was there…
‘Self is to be dealt with by crucifixion, not by forgiveness.' (Donald Grey Barnhouse, Pastor and Writer, 1895-1960)

Why was the ruler of the synagogue so authoritatively against Jesus? Was it because he had no real authority?

Actually – and very importantly – Jesus tells us why.  He does this by placing before us two parallels. They explain why the bent woman needed straightening and why the ruler was exactly the same only more so..

Jesus therefore said (first parallel): “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”

Again he said (second parallel):  “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God?  It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.”

First parallel: the man in the “garden” is like Adam in the garden in Eden; he plants in it one tiny seed of his own choice, the seed of what he wants; the seed grows huge and its tree overtakes everything; the tree allows all sorts of birds to occupy the man and his chosen way to live his life.

Second parallel: the woman is like Eve in the garden of Eden; she takes leaven and hides it in her three batches of flour; the leaven is her own choice, her self-interest, her desire; every part of her life is permeated by leaven.

Is this the bent over ruler? Is this the bent over woman?

‘Life offers only two alternatives: crucifixion with Christ or self-destruction without him.' (Anon.)

In the ancient Jewish/Christian book of Genesis (c. BC 1350) – well known to all in that synagogue - Eve had three reasons, three life facets for eating the forbidden fruit: When the woman saw that the tree was good for food [Give me Satisfaction], and that it was a delight to the eyes [Give me Possessions], and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise [Give me Authority], she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 

The two parallels describe the kingdom of God as it was then and as it is today – the created Garden of Eden was corrupted long ago. It’s still bent over and in need of straightening. Every valuable person on this earth needs straightening. The synagogue ruler. The church ruler. My neighbour. Me.

This dear woman needed Jesus – and so do I. He laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.
Richard Syvret

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