- Father 2. Son 3. Holy Spirit 4. Creation 5. Redemption
And the Gospel comes to us in the first 5 books of the NT:
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts
These are the ultimate revelation of God’s grace and goodness.
These mysteries and graces are summed up in the biblical idea of: SABBATH.
Sabbath was built into the fabric of creation. It is a gift designed to maximise human flourishing, human life and potential. To be as fully alive as you can be as a human being, is to enter “Sabbath”. A gift day designed by God for our good. Finding its ultimate fulfilment of course in our True Sabbath Rest: Jesus Christ.
In comparison with 13:4, the next number is 18.
18 lost their life. The poor woman was disabled for 18 years (diminished life)!
What is the significance and link with Sabbath?
Hewbrew numerology understands 18 as meaning “Life”, “Alive” or “Living”.
The 18 who died in 13:4 were living and alive before an unjust and untimely death.
This disabled woman, suffering as she was, had been robbed of life for 18 years too.
Jesus heals her on the Sabbath, the day of potential, life, flourishing and rest. Because Jesus is our Sabbath and our Rest and our Life.
But we mustn’t forget about the ox and the ass (I mean the synagogue ruler)! When Jesus healed her (v13), she stood upright and glorified God. But the man we thought was nice isn’t nice, he’s mean; he’s uptight. He’s an ass. Look at what he does – he speaks to the people! Oh, nice move from the nice man! He correctly quoted the creation story: 6 days of work, one of rest. Bravo, what a scholar!
But then Jesus responds (notice: to the crowd also) and calls them hypocrites (v15):
“You all untie your ox’s and donkey’s to give them water! C’mon, think about it!!” Jesus refuses the argument from religious exactness; Instead, he appeals entirely to God’s goodness and grace!!
Think for a moment:
What kind of characteristics of God were believed by the nice man?
How did Jesus re-align the nature and character of God for everyone here?
We, of course, side with Jesus, because we’ve read the Bibles and know the story.
But in what way does the Gospel need to re-align or overturn aspects of how we think/believe about God?
The synagogue ruler was following protocol. He was expressing what everyone knew! He was only doing his job (the same excuse used by Nazi guards of Concentration Camps)! But in the end, he strains out a gnat and swallows an ox and a donkey, and a camel!
The Bible Already Interprets Our Culture
Our Culture is experiencing rapid, accelerated change in secular post-modernity. You’ve surely heard of Cancel Culture; Post-Truth and Fake News. Authoritarianism via social stigmas and posturing are on the rise. Social Media is becoming the great ‘Name-and-Shame-and-Cancel’ platform par excellence!
The Synagogue Ruler was doing all that here. He tries to “cancel” Jesus, by appealing to the crowd. His appeal was authoritarian; It was designed to close down debate; Cancel Jesus and shame him into a shameful retreat. This is precisely how the Neo-Marxist movements in our culture work today.
If you live long enough, experiencing shame and even shaming others – will happen.
But shaming is an authoritarian totalitarian use of words used to destroy/silence opponents;
It happens in our Universities! It’s called “No Platforming!” It is used to prevent defense or debate (Free Speech is becoming Freak Speech)!
This Synagogue Ruler attempted to shame Jesus by three things:
- Mob rule
- Appeal to social #norms
- Self-promoting self-righteousness disguised as “following the rules”.
If this guy had a Twitter account, he’d be dangerous, predictable and boring.
He has failed the 2nd Temptation of Luke 4 – illegitimate social manipulation of crowds.
It is no accident that, as the late-great Pastoral Theologian Donald Capps says,
“Shame experiences are evidence that one’s life has discontinuities, is always on the verge of chaos and is deeply flawed.” And this is certainly why bullies bully and shame their victims.
But gues what? The Gospel is for him too.
He needs to understand the mystery and majesty of the number 5.
He needs to get with the Grace and Goodness of God’s Gospel program.
He needs to understand that 18 represents being fully alive to God.
He needs to be set free also from a religiously Satanic grip on his life. And we do too.
Finally, notice the last verse ( read Luke 13:17): This verse is famously linked with Is.45:16 Those who distort the truth of God are themselves “put to shame and disgraced!” Because it is the God of Israel who is the Saviour. And the Saviour is, of course, Jesus Christ, Saviour of the whole world; who won our salvation by being put to public shame and disgrace on the Cross.
And soon after this story in Luke, and before the shame of the Cross; We see another healing story. Luke 14:1-6. This time a man, at the house of a Ruling Pharisee. It was a trap. Jesus pokes the bear with a provocative Sabbath question: Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?
Look what happened! Verse 4 & 6 – They remained silent.
They could not reply to these things. They’re learning!
And I do hope it didn’t spoil the party!
The Lord Bless you