“The Lord answered him, ‘You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his 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?’” (Luke 13:15–16, NIV84)
Something is wrong with someone’s theology when Jesus Himself is accused of breaking the law by healing this woman on the Sabbath day. The Pharisees watch Jesus heal a woman on the Sabbath, a woman who had suffered 18 years with a debilitating ailment that caused her to be completely hunched over. She was a woman yearning to be freed from her misery and pain. Rather than jumping up and down praising God, the Pharisees accuse Jesus of breaking the Sabbath law and hence doing something unlawful and ungodly.
You want to provoke Jesus’ ire? Just attack divine acts of mercy. Call an act of God an act of the devil. Say that a divine act of mercy is unlawful or ungodly. Jesus calls the Pharisees hypocrites. He accuses them of missing the point and hence breaking their own law. He challenges them about two things. First, their definition of work is not the same as what God has defined and is not something they can even live up to. He says to them: “Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your donkey and lead it to water?” He asks why, if they can do that on the Sabbath so their animals can survive, He can’t heal a person on the Sabbath so she can survive. Second, and most important, the Sabbath is supposed to be a day for setting people free from what binds them! The whole reason we worship on the Sabbath is so we can put ourselves in the presence of Almighty God so He can work miracles in our lives.
May we remember at all times what the Sabbath day is for!