Luke 13:10-22

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

August 29, 2001


Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem for the final time.  He is making His way south, going from city to city, teaching in the synagogues.

:10-17  Healing the woman on the Sabbath

:10  And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath.

:11 And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.

spiritpneuma – spirit; the third person of the triune God; the spirit, i.e. the vital principal by which the body is animated; a spirit, i.e. a simple essence, devoid of all or at least all grosser matter, and possessed of the power of knowing, desiring, deciding, and acting

infirmityastheneia – want of strength, weakness, infirmity

bowed togethersugkupto (“together” + “stooped”) – to bend completely forwards, to be bowed together

lift upanakupto – to raise or lift one’s self up

in no wisepanteles – all complete, perfect; completely, perfectly, utterly

Jesus is teaching in a synagogue.

A woman who goes to the synagogue has had this “infirmity” for eighteen years.  She’s been bent over in two, unable to stand up straight.

It might be that the “spirit” was a demonic spirit, it could be that it was an “attitude” of weakness that kept this woman doubled over.

:12 And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.

saweido – to see; to perceive with the eyes; to pay attention, observe; to inspect, examine; to know

he called herprosphoneo – to call to, to address by calling; to call to one’s self, summon

thou art loosedapoluo (“away from” + “loose”) – to set free; to let go, dismiss, (to detain no longer); to let go free, release

infirmityastheneia – want of strength, weakness, infirmity

The way Jesus describes this is as if the “infirmity” were something like a wooden post or a rock, and the woman is tied up with a rope to the post.  She is “bound” to this “infirmity” and Jesus is declaring that she is not untied from it.

:13 And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

he laidepitithemi – to put or lay upon

immediatelyparachrema – immediately, forthwith, instantly

she was made straightanorthoo (“again” + “straight”) – to set up, make erect; of a deformed person

glorifieddoxazo – to think, suppose, be of opinion; to praise, extol, magnify, celebrate; to honour, do honour to, hold in honour; to make glorious, adorn with lustre, clothe with splendour


Who’s in the spotlight?

Jesus has performed a miracle in such a way that He brought glory and attention to God the Father.
(Mat 5:16 KJV)  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
We tend to do things in a way to bring attention to ourselves.  After all, it’s rather a nice thing to have someone tell you that you are wonderful.
But when you’re serving the Lord, hopefully God is the One doing the work.

You might say, “But Jesus is God, and so what would be wrong if the attention had gone to Jesus?”  Nothing would be wrong.  But Jesus is setting a wonderful example of ministry for us.  Even He didn’t draw attention to Himself, He drew attention to the Father.

The Holy Spirit works in the same way.
(John 16:13-14 KJV)  Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. {14} He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.

When the Holy Spirit is truly and completely working in a person’s life, the attention will be going to Jesus, not the Holy Spirit and not to the person.

I heard Pastor Chuck teaching on Leviticus 10 and he brought out a point that I had never thought about:
(Lev 10:1-3 KJV)  And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. {2} And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. {3} Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.

I usually will talk about Nadab and Abihu and that the “strange fire” was probably some kind of incense that the Lord had not prescribed to them.  I will also point out that later on in the chapter (Lev. 10:9), God commands Aaron and his sons not to be drinking when they are doing their priestly duties.  The suggestion is that the sons might have been drunk at the time.

But Pastor Chuck noted how Moses commented that God had said,

“and before all the people I will be glorified”

Perhaps part of what was happening was that Nadab and Abihu thought they belonged in the spotlight.  Here is the first instance of the Israelite worship being done according to the Law, God sends fire from heaven, and all eyes are being drawn to the Lord.

And Nadab and Abihu jumped up to get into the spotlight.

Whenever God is doing a work, it seems that there are always people around who want to mess things up.

I heard Pastor Chuck say that at times he is reluctant to open up a meeting to the work of the Holy Spirit because he knows that once the Holy Spirit begins to work, there will be some person who will want to jump into the spotlight and grab all the attention and ruin the work that the Holy Spirit is doing.

I think I understand.

When we get to the part of our service tonight where we are waiting on the Lord, I want to encourage you to be sure you quiet yourself down and can hear God’s whisper in your ear.  I think that sometimes we get this thought in our head about something we ought to share or pray about, and we get so freaked out about speaking up in front of others that we might not wait for God to show us if and when we are to speak.

I wonder if God isn’t just looking for people to work through in such a way that when the work gets done, God gets the credit, not the person.
The Bible says,

(2 Chr 16:9 KJV)  For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.

:14 And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.

Here comes someone to ruin what God is doing.

ruler of the synagogue archisunagogos – ruler of the synagogue. It was his duty to select the readers or teachers in the synagogue, to examine the discourses of the public speakers, and to see that all things were done with decency and in accordance with ancestral usage.

indignationaganakteo – to be indignant, moved with indignation, be very displeased

had healedtherapeuo – to serve, do service; to heal, cure, restore to health

the peopleochlos – a crowd; a throng; a multitude

ought to dei – it is necessary, there is need of, it behooves, is right and proper

It is necessary, it is proper, it is right for men to work six days a week.  There is nothing wrong with this statement.  The idea of the “Sabbath” was to make sure that people took a day to rest and seek the Lord.

to workergazomai – to work, labour, do work; to trade, to make gains by trading, “do business”

:15 The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?

hypocrite hupokrites – one who answers, an interpreter; an actor, stage player; a dissembler, pretender, hypocrite

The word “hypocrite” comes from the Greek theater. The ancient Greek actors would have masks showing happy faces or sad faces that they would hold up while they spoke. They were “play acting”, pretending to be somebody they weren’t.

This leader of the synagogue, along with others, would play the part of a caring, kind individual when they took care of the needs of their ox or their donkey, but in reality, their lack of caring showed up by how they didn’t care for people.

loose luo – to loose any person (or thing) tied or fastened; to loose one bound, i.e. to unbind, release from bonds, set free

Jesus purposely uses the same basic word that was used to describe what He did for this woman, He “loosed” her.

oxbous – an ox, a cow

assonos – an ass

stallphatne – a crib, a manger

to wateringpotizo – to give to drink, to furnish drink; to water, irrigate (plants, fields etc.)


Care for the right things

Jesus is pointing out that the people seemed to be showing more concern for their oxen and donkeys than they did for other people.
This leader of the synagogue cared more that things were done with his approval, according to how he thought they ought to be done, than that God was at work and people were being helped.
He was more concerned that the synagogue stay a “comfortable” place, than that he be stretched and challenged, and God be at work.
God cares about people. Jesus cares about others.
Beth was sitting at an airport terminal, waiting to board a plane. She was sitting there with several other people who were also waiting, whom she did not know. As she waited, she pulled out her Bible and started reading. All of a sudden she felt as if the people sitting there around her, were looking at her. She looked up, but realized that they were looking just over her head, in the direction right behind her. She turned around to see what everyone was looking at, and when she did, she saw a stewardess pushing a wheelchair, with the ugliest old man sitting in it, that she had ever seen before. She said he had this long white hair that was all tangled and such a mess. His face was really, really wrinkled, and he didn’t look friendly at all. She said she didn’t know why, but she felt drawn to the man, and thought at first that God wanted her to witness to him. In her mind she said she was thinking, “Oh, God, please, not now, not here.” No matter what she did, she couldn’t get the man off of her mind, and all of a sudden she knew what God wanted her to do. She was supposed to brush this old man’s hair. She went and knelt down in front of the old man, and said “Sir may I have the honor of brushing your hair for you?” He said “What?” She thought, “Oh great, he’s hard of hearing.” Again, a little louder, she said, “Sir, may I have the honor of brushing your hair for you?” He answered, “If you are going to talk to me, you are going to have to speak up, I am practically deaf.” So this time, she was almost yelling, “Sir may I please have the honor of brushing your hair for you?” Everyone was watching to see what his response would be. The old man just looked at her confused, and said “Well, I guess if you really want to.” She said, “I don’t even have a brush, but I thought I would ask anyway.” He said, “Look in the bag hanging on the back of my chair, there is a brush in there.” So she got the brush out and started brushing his hair. (She has a little girl with long hair, so she has had lots of practice getting tangles out, and knew how to be gentle with him.) She worked for a long time, until every last tangle was out. Just as she was finishing up, she heard the old man crying, and she went and put her hands on his knees, kneeling in front of him again looking directly into his eyes, and said “Sir, do you know Jesus?” He answered, “Yes, of course I know Jesus. You see, my bride told me she couldn’t marry me unless I knew Jesus, so I learned all about Jesus, and asked Him to come into my heart many years ago, before I married my bride.” He continued, “You know, I am on my way home to go and see my wife. I have been in the hospital for a long time, and had to have a special surgery in this town far from my home. My wife couldn’t come with me, because she is so frail herself.” He said, “I was so worried about how terrible my hair looked, and I didn’t want her to see me looking so awful, but I couldn’t brush my hair, all by myself.” Tears were rolling down his cheeks, as he thanked Beth for brushing his hair. He thanked her over and over again. She was crying, people all around witnessing this were crying, and as they were all boarding the plane, the stewardess, who was also crying, stopped her, and asked, “Why did you do that?” And right there was the opportunity, the door that had been opened to share with someone else, the love of God. “We don’t always understand God’s ways, but be ready, He may use us to meet the need of someone else, like He met the need of this old man, and in that moment, also calling out to a lost soul who needed to know about His love.” 

:16 And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?

hath bound deo – to bind tie, fasten; to bind, fasten with chains, to throw into chains; Satan is said to bind a woman bent together by means of a demon, as his messenger, taking possession of the woman and preventing her from standing upright

bonddesmon – a band or bond

be loosed luo – to loose any person (or thing) tied or fastened; to loose one bound, i.e. to unbind, release from bonds, set free

Jesus taught twice about binding and loosing –

(Mat 16:18-19 KJV)  And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. {19} And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

(Mat 18:18 KJV)  Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

If I understand this correctly in the light of this story with the crippled woman, the people we minister to are to be “loosed” from their bondage, the demons are to be “bound”.

:17 And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.

were ashamedkataischuno – to dishonour, disgrace; to put to shame, make ashamed; to be ashamed, blush with shame

adversariesantikeimai – to be set over against, opposite to; to oppose, be adverse to, withstand

rejoicedchairo – to rejoice, be glad; to rejoice exceedingly

gloriousendoxos – held in good or in great esteem, of high repute; illustrious, honourable, esteemed; notable, glorious; splendid


Church ought to be a place for healing

I’m afraid that sometimes I have made the church to be a place for conviction and condemnation in my teaching.  But God’s desire is that church ought to be a place for healing and forgiveness.  It should be a place where those who are bound are set free.  It should be a place where those who are under heavy burdens can be released.

:18-19  Mustard Tree

:18 Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?

:19 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.

I’ve heard Pastor Chuck say that when he was in seminary that one of his professors told him to never attempt to teach the parables until you’ve been in the ministry for twenty years.

There are two completely different ways of looking at these next two parables.

The first way is to look at this in a positive light, that the kingdom of God only needs a little seed to take root and grow until it becomes huge.  The idea is that all it takes is a person opening up their heart to God’s Word, and before you know it, hundreds of people will come to the Lord.

There’s truth to this, but I’m not sure that’s what Jesus is saying.

The second way is to look at this in a negative light.

This tends to follow more the principle that the symbols in Jesus’ parables stay constant.  Seeds always mean one thing, birds always mean something, etc.
Seeds in Jesus’ parables are a picture of God’s Word.  The sower threw seeds on the ground (Mat. 13) representing the spreading of God’s Word.
Birds seem to be negative, demonic in nature.  Some of the birds (Mat. 13) ate the seeds, being a picture of Satan destroying the work of God in people’s lives.
Also, though a mustard seed is little, and though a mustard seed grows into a large bush, they don’t grow into a “great tree”.  There is something bizarre, abnormal about this kind of growth.
Here’s how I see this parable –
In context, Jesus has just performed a wonderful miracle in healing this woman.  And as soon as He heals this woman, His methods are attacked.  Something wonderful has happened, but in the middle of a wonderful thing, something ugly occurs.
I think Jesus is responding to this ruler of the synagogue and saying something like this,

In God’s kingdom, there is a kind of growth that can occur where things can get larger than they might normally get.  Churches can grow bigger than they might normally get.  And when things get big like this, you will find problems lurking in the branches.  There will be people who are not led by God who will be involved.  There will be ugly things happening, even in the church.

:20-22  Leavened bread

:20 And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God?

:21 It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

:22 And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem.

Again, there are two completely different ways that people will interpret what Jesus is saying here.

First, some people look at this in a positive way.

Some people look at this as how the gospel is able to permeate a community.  One person gets saved and then another and another.

Again, though this can happen, I’m not sure this is what Jesus is saying.

Second, there is a negative interpretation on this parable.

Leaven is ALWAYS a picture of sin or evil.

Paul warned the Corinthian church to take care of the sin that had become to be accepted in the church.  He warned the Corinthians that they would all be affected by sin that was not dealt with.
(1 Cor 5:6 KJV)  Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
The way leaven (or “yeast”) works is through decay and putrification.  As the leaven mixes in with the bread dough, it begins to break down the flour and produces chemical reactions that release gases and the dough rises.
You only need to put a little pinch of yeast into a lump of dough and if you let the lump sit long enough, the yeast will eventually permeate the entire lump of dough.

Again, this parable is very similar to the preceding parable.  The idea is that sometimes a little wickedness can creep into the church.  And if you aren’t careful, it can eventually affect everyone.

This leader of the synagogue had a horrible attitude about Jesus healing this woman.  Attitudes like this can be destructive in a church.


Your attitude affects others

I don’t want to go overboard with this.  Sometimes we can try to find excuses and point fingers at other people, “The reason why this particular program isn’t succeeding is because there’s sin in the church”.  That may or may not be the case.
But my concern is mostly when we get to adopt the attitude that our own personal views or sins don’t really affect things much one way or the other.
This is not really about “sin” as much as it is about attitude.
The ruler of the synagogue was stuck in a rut that led to the hindering of the work of God in his synagogue.
He only wanted God to be at work in ways that fit his own conception of how God should work.
Do you long for God to be at work in your life?  Do you long for God to be at work in our church?