Summary: When Jesus heals a woman’s debilitating and oppressive spinal condition on the sabbath, his action draws a rebuke. His sharp retort to his critics implies that his action was totally appropriate, since honoring the sabbath entails reiterating God’s commitment to freedom from oppression. The theological logic that drives this passage and justifies Jesus’ urgent concern for the anonymous woman’s well-being resonates with what Martin Luther King Jr. argues in his famous book Why We Can’t Wait. Well-meaning religious people seem to have a habit of impeding God’s commitment to justice and liberation. Our problem goes beyond ignorance or a lack of compassion. Sometimes our theology, security, and idealism are to blame. We need to rediscover the priorities to which God is committed, such as delivering people from suffering.
Summary: With this biblical passage, 2 Timothy opens, giving attention to the letter’s central themes: imitate Paul’s example in enduring suffering and shame, and preserve the faith.
I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.
Summary: Healing a man with a skin disease alters the course of Jesus’ ministry. It’s a reminder that God’s entrance into human existence involves God in the vagaries of human existence. As God is affected by the challenges of alleviating suffering, we should expect the same from our own efforts.