It’s a Saturday morning long ago. In a small town, the community gather in the synagogue. It’s time to worship.
Jesus is teaching this morning. But as he opens the scriptures, he notices a woman shuffle into the back. Bent over, she could barely lift her head due to the severity of her disability.
Jesus is moved. And he knows that today is her day of freedom. Right there, in this place where men sat in the front and women were silent, Jesus calls her.
“Woman, come forward.”
“Surely he’s not talking to me,” she thinks. But as she looks into his eyes, she knows. Jesus is speaking to her.
She rises to her feet and shuffles past people who had known her all her life. They had watched as her body had become stooped and grotesque some 18 years before. She’s temporarily cowed by the raised eyebrows and the murmurs of the law-lovers.
But she raises her eye and continues to walk the aisle until she stands, as it were, in front of Jesus. Jesus kneels down on one knee so that he can look up into her eyes.
“Woman, you are set free.”
As he rises to his feet, Jesus places his hands firmly on the woman’s shoulders. And it’s like a holy finger runs up her spine clicking every vertebra into place. He smiles while she is released from bondage. Today is her day of freedom.
Joy overflows as she stands straight before Jesus, lifts her hands, and praises God. She can’t contain her happiness. Her friends laugh, and tears fill their eyes as they rejoice with her. In the middle of the ordinary where people had become comfortable in the presence of oppression, freedom has broken through.
But not everyone rejoices. Especially the law-lovers. It’s hard for law-lovers to rejoice when freedom breaks through. Above the celebration, the voice of the synagogue leader rings out.
“There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”
Rejoicers shrink back. And for the woman who has been set free, she begins to sink back into the oppression that bound her for nearly two decades. Law-lovers nod their heads in approval.
“He’s right. It’s not lawful. She should be ashamed.”
But the voice of freedom rises.
“You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”
The law-lovers steam in their humiliation. But they can’t battle the freedom-giver. Not now. But the woman, and others who delight in freedom, rejoice in what Jesus had done. (Luke 13:10-17)
And I’m wondering what is in this story for you today. What about this Jesus do you need to know? What about this story touches your heart? Is there a freedom walk do you need to take?