Reading this healing story, our tendency is to side with Jesus and the woman and the crowds, and against Jesus’ opponents, even to be glad about their shame. After all, they’re wrong—and, of course, Jesus is right: when someone is suffering, healing is more important than the letter of the Law. Worship is at its best when it transforms us and lifts us into new life, not when it maintains the status quo. But perhaps instead of rejoicing in one person’s exaltation over the other, we could simply aim for kindness and healing in this complex, broken world, where everyone needs simultaneously to be exalted and humbled. Perhaps grace could replace judgment in our assessment of those who appear to be our opponents. Rather than aiming to be lifted up while our enemies are stooped down, perhaps we could focus on seeing what God reveals to us no matter where our gaze is aimed, no matter how tall we stand. When we notice the person next to us stooped down, we might take on some of her burden without judging his/her worthiness. Perhaps that’s where the real healing begins.
10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 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. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 14 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.”
15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.