The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 13:10-17

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 20, 2015

10 And he was teaching in their synagogue on their sabbath.

“And He was teaching,” means, He was in the habit of teaching—“in their,” or, (as in Greek) “in one of their synagogues”—“synagogue, on the Sabbath.” On the Sabbath days, the Jews assembled in their synagogues, for the purpose of having the Sacred Scriptures explained, and of prayer, as Christians frequent their churches, on Sundays and holidays (see Matthew 4:23). Our Lord avails Himself of the public occasion of their assembling in the synagogue to perform the miracle here recorded.

11 And behold there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years. And she was bowed together: neither could she look upwards at all.

“A spirit of infirmity,” an inveterate infirmity caused by an evil spirit (v. 16). “Eighteen years,” of an inveterate nature and incurable by human skill. Evil spirits, by Divine permission, cause diseases and bodily harm in many instances (Job 2; Psalms 79:49; 91:6; Mark 9:5; Luke 4:33). “Bent down,” &c. She almost crept along the ground.

12 Whom when Jesus saw, he called her unto him and said to her: Woman, thou art delivered from thy infirmity.
13 And he laid his hands upon her: and immediately she was made straight and glorified God.

Our Lord rarely worked miracles, unasked. Here, with the view of reprehending the superstition of the Pharisees, in regard to Sabbatical observances, for which reprehension He saw that the murmuring about to take place, would furnish a befitting occasion—He calls the woman to Him, and viewing her with the eyes of mercy, lays His hand upon her, which indicates His power, and He pronounces her cured; He Himself, by His Almighty power, curing her, at the same time. “Loosed from thy infirmity.” Loosed, because her sinews and muscles had been hitherto contracted. “Immediately she was straight,” the curvature was gone, and she assumed her natural straightness of body. She “glorified God,” acknowledging and loudly proclaiming the intervention of Divine power in her favour. No doubt, the multitude present, joined her in doing so.

14 And the ruler of the synagogue being angry that Jesus had healed on the sabbath answering, said to the multitude: Six days there are wherein you ought to work. In them therefore come and be healed: and not on the sabbath day.

“The ruler of the synagogue,” one of the presidents of the synagogue, speaking in the name of the rest. It seems there were several rulers in each synagogue, no doubt, with due subordination (Matthew 9:18; Mark 5:22; Acts 13:5, 15). “Being angry,” or affecting to be so.

“That Jesus had healed,” miraculously effected a cure, without human appliances, by the sole operation of His power. His anger was ostensibly caused by his great zeal in regard to what he affected to consider as a violation of the Sabbath publicly, in the very synagogue, where the ordinances of the law are inculcated; but, in reality it proceeded from envy, and the knowledge that a miracle thus publicly performed would redound to the glory of our Lord.

“Answering said to the multitude.” Our Redeemer had frequently before this chastised the Pharisees for their ignorance and hypocrisy. Fearing a similar castigation, the man addressed not our Lord, but the multitude. He would rather see the wretched woman for ever suffering and bent to the earth, than see our Lord glorified by curing her.

15 And the Lord answering him, said: Ye hypocrites, doth not every one of you, on the sabbath day, loose his ox or his ass from the manger and lead them to water?

“Ye hypocrites,” who affect sanctity which you do not possess;—in this case, they affected zeal for the law, when envy alone influenced them (see Matthew 7:5; 15:7).—He addresses the Ruler and those who shared in his sentiments. He exposes them by a reference to their own mode of acting, in certain cases, on the Sabbath day.

16 And ought not this daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?

He shows that the cure of the woman was not a servile, but a Divine work, most worthy of the Sabbath, as it tended to glorify God, the Lord of the Sabbath. Every word is emphatic, and shows the indignity of preferring a brute beast to a human being. The antithesis is most marked, between “the daughter of Abraham,” and “an ox or ass;” the loosing of spiritual bonds in a human being, and the corporal loosing of a brute animal; the length of time this woman had been suffering, “eighteen years,” and the few hours the brute animal had been bound; the loosing of the animal required time and labour; that of the woman was performed in an instant; the woman was restored to perfect health and sanctity, the beast was only watered for the time (A. Lapide). “Loosed from this bond,” so grievous and afflicting.

17 And when he said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the things that were gloriously done by him.

“Were ashamed,” because, being convicted of calumny, and unable to make any reply, the exposure of their dishonesty and ignorance rendered them subjects of derision.

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