The First Century synagogue was the domain of men. Women could observe either from the balcony or from behind a latticework, but men and women did not worship together. On this particular Sabbath, while Jesus was teaching, a hunchbacked old woman hobbled into the midst of men. Every eye must have been fixed on her. Some were angry. Some were curious, but one set of eyes was touched with sympathy. Jesus called to her. “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he placed his hands on her, and she stood upright pain-free for the first time in eighteen years.
It’s a beautiful story, but not everyone saw it that way. The leader of the synagogue was indignant. There are rules to be followed, traditions to be respected, and order to be observed! A woman in the assembly! An old, disabled woman, no less! He knew the Law of Moses. The fourth commandment demanded respect for the Sabbath, and that meant “No work.” This was entirely outrageous! When he could control himself no longer, he stood and barked, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath” (Luke 13:14).
I wonder if the ruler objected because she was an old woman and ugly? Would he have been so adamant if she was beautiful, rich, and young? Jesus came to her aid and defended her (Luke 13:15, 16).
Immediately following this encounter, Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches” (Luke 13:18, 19).
A single mustard seed, like the old woman, appears insignificant. But there are no unimportant people in the kingdom of God. A tiny mustard seed becomes a great bush! I wonder how the synagogue ruler would have felt if he knew what Jesus knew; that little, nameless woman was a princess in the presence of the Son of God. Next Lord’s Day, look around the assembly. Although there is no red carpet or cameras outside, we are all very important people. We are the children of God!
Be a Blessing,