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, not on the sabbath day.” – Luke 13:14 (NRSV)
Early in my ministry, a couple asked me to baptize their baby during Christmas Eve service. They had already been to see a different minister in town with the same request. He turned them down. This very traditional, highly anticipated service was already set, he said. The bulletin had been printed. It just wasn’t a good time. He would do the baptism before or after, but not during the Christmas Eve service.
Thus, the couple landed in my office. I empathized with the other pastor’s position, but I also felt Christmas Eve might be the perfect time baptize and bless a baby, because Christmas Eve is all about a blessed baby. Besides, our bulletins had yet to be printed.
The Luke 13 text features a religious professional objecting to Rabbi Jesus healing a woman with a challenging physical condition on the sabbath. The sabbath, he argued, celebrated liberation from endless toil; it’s not a day for work, even working miracles.
Jesus saw it differently. Because the sabbath is about liberation from bondage, it was the perfect time to liberate this woman from her ailment.
How many people today associate religion with freedom, liberation, and grace? Precious few. That should bother us as much as it bothered Jesus. Religion is meant to liberate! When religion does the opposite, it becomes something else, something for which Jesus had little patience.
Liberating Love, free us from captivity, especially when done in the name of religion.