Worshiping Community: An agent of Redemption
When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment” (V 12)
This is one of the most interesting miracles Jesus ever performed. The context of this incident is Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. On his way to Jerusalem through Samaria he stopped in a synagogue where he saw a woman who had an infirmity which had been crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. Verses 12 and 13 says “ When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.”13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God”. Jesus healed her in a worshipping place among the worshipping people. By doing this miracles Jesus teaches us the following lessons about community worship.
Worship should be liberative : She had been a worshiper at the synagogue for several years. But none of them in the worshiping community paid any attention to her so far. By healing her Jesus reiterates that worship should not be meaningful if there is anyone with an infirmity. Bible says that she was possessed by a demon. It reflects a common belief in the first century that one’s physical and spiritual conditions were intricately related and can’t be separated. The woman’s posture reflects her social conditions. It was diminished and frail. Salvation for her means freedom from spiritual, physical and social oppression. By laying his hand upon her, Jesus liberated and redeemed this crippled woman from the clutches of the demonic forces who always forced her in bondage and oppression
Worship should encourage us to take new challenges. The woman came for worship instead of healing and does not approach Jesus or request healing. But He saw the need and responded without being asked. No one thought that it was a bad idea for Jesus to heal the suffering woman. But the concern was raised about the timing. The synagogue leader questioned Jesus for breaking the Law of Moses. His argument was that healing constitutes work. But Jesus says that the issue is not about what constitutes work but it is about the kind of activities and aims that truly reflects the purpose of the Sabbath. So healing on the Sabbath proved that Jesus is not a law breaker, but he is a law reformer. Jesus gave new interpretation to the law. Jesus also proved that the law is made for human beings and human beings are not made for laws. Let us take the new challenges that the worship presents in front of us.
Prayer: O father God, we praise you for the great salvation brought to humankind through your son Jesus Christ. Amen
Rev. M E. Shaji, MTC, Delaware valley