Sermon: Day of rest
Sunday sermon on the Gospel lesson from Luke 13:10-17
Jesus Heals a Crippled Woman
10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11 And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” 13 When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 14 But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” 15 But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” 17 When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; One God. Amen.
The healing miracle of a crippled woman that happened on the Sabbath is one of many examples of similar miracles that Jesus performed on the Sabbath day, on the day when according to the Law of Moses people were to rest from all work.
Sabbath day was a day of rest, as God Himself had appointed – during the first six days God created everything, “and,” as the book of Genesis say, “on the seventh day God finished the work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all the work. So God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it” (Genesis 2:2-3).
It’s also one of the Ten Commandments – “Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. You shall not do any work” (Exodus 20:8-11).
On this seventh day the faithful are meant not only to avoid all kind of work, but also to recharge, reenergize for the next six days. So, it’s not so much about doing nothing, as doing things that reinvigorate a person. That does include rest itself, but also prayer and communal worship.
The same was practiced with the farming land – for six years the land was cultivated, but on the seventh year it rested, otherwise it would stop being productive. The point was for the land to regain its vitality to flourish and give fruit again.
In short, the Sabbath day, the day of rest, the seventh day is the day when life triumphs over work – not in idle rest, but with spiritual, mental, and physical recharging.
We see the Lord in the Gospels perform so many miracles on the Sabbath to emphasize that on the seventh day everything and everyone is brought back to life, everything and everyone returns to wholeness, strength returns to those who have lost it during the week, and that’s basically everyone.
For Christians the seventh day, the day of renewal, has become Sunday. On this day, as you know, we don’t rest lazily much. We come to church, and that can feel like a struggle sometimes – be it getting the kids dressed and in the car, or dressing yourself. It’s not easy, but we make that effort. Perhaps coming to church has become a second nature – it’s Sunday, where else can we be, right?
Whether we realize it or not, but the reason we have this second nature is because God commanded it, He put it in us. And whether we are young or old, or in the middle, seeing familiar faces, or new ones, praying together and letting Christ touch us, and having fellowship together is what reenergizes us for the coming week.
In some ways we are like the woman who was crippled for eighteen years, and who came to the synagogue and was met there by the Lord, Who healed her. We are also crippled, crippled by life, crippled by our sins, crippled by the labor of the previous six days. And we need rest. We need the Lord to put His hand on us and cure us.
Well, Christ did promise that where two or three are gathered in His Name, He will also be present there (Matthew 18:20). We have slightly more than two or three gathered here today, so we can be sure that He is among us.
And when we approach the chalice together, Jesus Christ unites us in Himself because we partake of one and the same Body and Blood of our Lord.
When Jesus laid His hand on the crippled woman to heal her, He showed that His flesh imparts both power and energy able to change our life. This same power and energy is given to us in Communion.
When the chalice is brought out for the Communion, we hear an exclamation, “In the fear of God, with faith and love draw near.” With faith, believing that Christ will not only touch us, but that He will change us.
For this change God set aside the seventh day for us, to revitalize us, because even God rested after working for six days. Let us use this rest, and the strength that we get on this day to practice virtue, to be light to the world, and faithful disciples of Jesus Christ in this crippled world.
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