Wednesday, March 15 – Luke 13:1-21

God commands his people in Deuteronomy 5:12-15 to observe the Sabbath as a way to remember their freedom from slavery in Egypt. For God’s people, the Sabbath is their Independence Day!

The Bible tells us there are all kinds of ways to be a slave: we can be a slave to an empire, to chronic illness, and even to the forces of evil. Slavery is anything that keeps us from being who God created us to be and from living out God’s destiny for us.

In Luke 13:10-17, we find Jesus teaching at a service on the Sabbath. Attending that service is a woman who has been enslaved by a chronic illness caused by an evil spirit. Sometime during that service, Jesus puts his hands on her and tells her, “You are set free from your infirmity.” Immediately she’s healed. What an incredible way to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day!

But the synagogue leader is outraged! “There are six days for work. Come be healed on those days.” All he can think of is someone did something they weren’t supposed to. He completely missed that God had just showed up and healed one of his children. This leader is enslaved. He’s enslaved to an understanding of the Sabbath that is the opposite of what God extended. Healing people isn’t something forbidden on Sabbath, it’s exactly the point!

It’s easy to turn our life with God into religious rule-keeping. Rule-keeping helps us feel good about ourselves. It’s easy to keep score. We can compare ourselves to others who don’t keep the rules like we do. But God isn’t interested in rule-keeping. What he longs for is to free us from whatever enslaves us, including our rule-keeping. He longs for us to know he created us on purpose, for a purpose, and in love—that he values us more than we can imagine. But, most of all, God longs for us to know that we are worth dying for, because that’s exactly what he did.

Questions for reflection:

  1. Where might there be some places you need freedom and healing? Does it have to do with relationships? Circumstances? Some habit or regret? Perhaps some past wound or wounder?
  2. Do you know someone whose religious rule-keeping has kept them from experiencing the grace of God? How might you pray for them? What could you do to share God’s grace with them?

Bible passages for further exploration: Matthew 7:1-5, 11:28–30, Mark 3:1–6, Ephesians 2:1–10,