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Sabbath days? that they might accuse Him. And He said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the Sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath days. Then saith He to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.
Our Saviour Christ had worked miracles of healing on the Sabbath day before this. He had cast out the evil spirit from a possessed man in the synagogue of Capernaum; He had cured Simon's wife's mother of a fever; He had opened the eyes of the man born blind. So when His enemies, the scribes and Pharisees, saw Him and this afflicted man together in the synagogue, they watched to see whether He would heal him.? If so, they would accuse our Lord of breaking the Sabbath. At last they put the question to Him, whether it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath day. He answered them by putting a question in return. Suppose one of them had a sheep, and it fell into a pit on the Sabbath day, would not its owner pull it out? Of course he would, and without breaking God's law. Still less did it break God's law to speak the word and restore a man to health, for a man is far better than a sheep.
The scribes and Pharisees had nothing to say in answer. They were obliged to hold their peace. But their hearts were hardened against our Lord's gracious words. He saw this, for all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of
St. Luke, vi. 7.
HEALING OF THE WOMAN BOWED TOGETHER. 53
Him with Whom we have to do. Before He healed the man He looked round upon them with sorrow and anger. Then, in their sight, He made that wasted withered hand sound and strong; but instead of owning the power of God which was thus shewn forth, they were filled with madness, and began to plot and contrive how to destroy Him Who was thus going about doing good, and healing as many as had need of healing.
XX.-THE HEALING OF THE WOMAN
WHO WAS BOWED TOGETHER.
OUR LORD seems to have loved to work miracles of healing on the Sabbath day, though it only stirred up His enemies to oppose and blaspheme Him. St. Luke relates how He thus restored to health a crippled woman, in chapter xiii. 10–17.
And He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And He laid His hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work, in them therefore
Hebrews, iv. 13.
come and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day. The Lord then answered him and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bónd on the Sabbath day? And when He had said these things, all His adversaries were ashamed; and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.
Satan, who in old time was allowed by God to smite Job with sore boils,' had sorely afflicted this poor woman. He ha bound her eighteen years before, and ever since she had been bowed together. She could not stand or walk upright, or look up to the sky. She was able, however, to go to the synagogue, and there the Lord Jesus cast His eye of pity upon her. By His word and His touch He broke the chain of Satan, and set her free from his power.
The woman glorified God, and the people rejoiced; but the ruler of the synagogue was displeased. He did not dare to say anything to the Lord, but he rebuked the people for coming to be healed on the Sabbath. This ruler, however, was only a hypocrite. He pretended to be angry because the Sabbath was slighted; he was really angry because Christ was glorified. Our Lord shewed him that there was no Sabbath-breaking in loosing a woman from the bonds of Satan, any more than in loosing an ox or an ass from his stall, as was done every Sabbath day, to lead it away to watering. If this ruler had loved God and his neighbour rightly, he would have seen that works of mercy on the Sabbath were not a destroying of the law, but a fulfilling it.
* Job, ii. 6, 7.
XXI.—THE HEALING OF THE DROPSICAL
The proud haughty Pharisees were the chief enemies of our Saviour Christ, yet He was so gracious that He did not refuse to go among them. When they invited Him to their houses, He went there. Thus we read of Him one Sabbath day at a feast in the house of one of the chief Pharisees. In St. Luke, xiv. 1-6, we read of the miracle which He worked there.
And it came to pass, as He went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath day, that they watched Him. And behold, there was a certain man before Him which had the dropsy. And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, le it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day? And they held their peace. And He took him, and healed him, and let him go; and answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the Sabbath day? And they could not answer Him again to these things.
It seems strange at first that this sick man should have been present at the Pharisee's feast; but we must remember that in the East houses
were more open, and life was more publie, than in our own country. There was a large court in the middle of Eastern houses. No doubt the feast was held in this court, and many people were standing about looking on, besides those who were invited to sit down to meat.
Among those people was the poor man who had the dropsy. Perhaps he came there in hopes of being healed. Christ's enemies saw him, and watched to see what the Lord would do. He knew their thoughts, and asked them the question they had put to Him before, 'Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day? He had proved to them before that it was, but they would not allow it, so they had nothing to say. Every mouth was stopped ; and while they sat silent, our Lord Jesus healed the man. Then He asked them whether they would not on the Sabbath day pull out of a pit an ox or an ass who might have fallen into it. No doubt they would, though they did not say so. They would have helped a beast because it was their own property; they grudged the same help to their neighbour. And why? because they had not learnt to love him as themselves.
XXII.—THE CLEANSING OF THE TEN
OUR Lord Jesus was on His last journey from Galilee to Jerusalem. Why was He going there? He went to keep the Feast of the Passover in the appointed place, as God had commanded every son of Israel more than fourteen hundred