Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.”
The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.
Luke 13:10-17 NKJV
Freeing yourself is one thing, but claiming ownership of that freed self is another.
This woman in the text, despite her infirmity, decided that she was going to church. This 18 year condition now has her bent over and unable to straighten up, but she is still in church. Maybe she goes to church because of her infirmity. Maybe she hopes that something there will change her condition.
The rabbi at the synagogue must respect Jesus enough to turn over preaching and teaching to Him for that day. Things must have been going well, too—until Jesus abruptly beckons for the woman to stand, and He publicly heals her. The synagogue pastor doesn’t want to express his disdain to Jesus. Instead, he does what many of us do. We take it out on the people who we think are not as strong.
He turns his frustration towards the congregation. He tells them that they have every other day of the week to work towards wholeness, freedom, and liberation. They can be healed and released from their infirmities on any day but the sabbath. The rabbi doesn’t have a problem with Jesus delivering the woman. His problem is the day on which the deliverance takes place.
Jesus uses this opportunity, however, to ask a question. He says, if you have an animal tied up and it needed to drink water, you would untie it and lead it to drink, wouldn’t you? The question is rhetorical. They knew the answer was, emphatically, “Yes.”
Jesus makes it clear that it is more important that He responds to the woman tied by an infirmity, who needs to be led to wellness and health. The people are amazed, and glory breaks out in the synagogue—both for Jesus, the liberator, and for the woman, the liberated.
That’s the story. We could go home if we wanted. But there is still tension in the text. This tension is between Jesus and the rabbi. The rabbi had willingly turned the control of his service over to Jesus. When you turn that control over to Jesus, what do you expect? After all, rumors are spreading that wherever Jesus goes, people are getting healed. Demons are being confronted. He is displaying power and performing miracles.
What did he expect Jesus to do? Did the rabbi expect Him to tone down the rhetoric? Not offer healing? Resist setting anybody free?
When we turn our lives over to Jesus, His presence frees us from our bondage. He can change our boundaries, mature the immature parts of our personalities, and change our attitudes.
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
1 Timothy 4:8 NIV
Paul is teaching Timothy how to avoid being swept up in Satanic-led teaching. At the time, there were many who were leading Christians away with false spiritual teachings. Their cunning teaching seduced those who were attempting to seek the truth. It seduced them because it sounded enough like ancient scripture. Even today, these teachings are awfully believable to the gullible mind.
Paul uses the two most popular examples of apostate teachings that are trapping people. First, these apostates were teaching people that they should not get married, so as to preserve their whole selves for God. This is clearly false teaching, as God not only instituted marriage but also ordained it as holy. Secondly, these apostates were teaching against eating meat because of the Jewish law prohibiting certain types of meat consumption. However, Paul taught that Christ has freed us from the law and freed us to receive anything if it is received with thanksgiving.
Paul brings these up to highlight the apostasy that is running rampant in the church, and Paul wants young Timothy to minister in this tense environment. Paul says to Timothy, ‘Fight these preachers, by standing unashamed and declaring scriptural truth.’
If we are not careful, the temptation to believe the popular can overcome us. We cannot let what everyone else thinks to be true to become our truth. Just like Timothy, we can stay Godly by staying in training. We must stay spiritually surrendered and deeply prayerful. We must also exercise our faith for the purpose of growth, just like an athlete exercises their body.
Like Paul says, athletic training for the body has some value. It helps us journey through life on this side of the veil. But we must think about our relationship with God as spiritual training. Not only is it beneficial for the here and now, but it is also valuable for our life beyond.
This forces us to ask the question: “What are we training for?” It’s bigger than asking, “How has God been blessing you?” Instead, “How has God been training and exercising you?”
This is not about favor or blessing. This is about being more Godly. When we are strong enough in our training, we won’t be pulled away by false teachings. We will know the difference between spiritual half-truths and the real truth in Christ. When we have trained ourselves up, we can experience resurrection freedom, and we can say that Christ has set us free.
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.
The Apostle Paul is challenging all of these strangled formulas and philosophies. He stands as God’s appointed Apostle, right in the middle of the crossfire between Gnostics, Judaizers, and philosophers, all of which are trying to demonstrate superiority over the others.
Paul says, in order to walk in a relationship with God, it doesn’t need to be this profound or tangled. Just have faith in Jesus Christ. Living a spiritual life is not a secret knowledge revealed only to a select few, as the Gnostics would suggest. It is not an intellectual sport where we compete against each other to see who is more spiritually superior, as the philosophers believed. It is not about abiding by a set of rules and laws that have nothing to do with the human heart, as the Judaizers believed.
Paul says that it is much simpler. God extended this spiritual pathway to us, first appearing in a manger in Bethlehem. Paul says, you don’t have to worry about this philosophical, intellectual entanglement. Just have faith in Jesus Christ. Paul’s definition that comes behind that is this: “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9 KJV).
Believing in Jesus, trusting confidently in His work in you, and imitating Christ’s example is what it means to walk in faith.
The Colossian church accepted Jesus and had faith in Him. As a result, they were under attack by the culture that existed around them—these intellectual philosophies and practices. These Gnostics, philosophers, and Judaizers so despise these Christ followers that they became aggressive enough to arrest the Colossian church with the intent to kill them.
Paul writes to center the saints: You know what you have been taught and you know what you believe. You know how important this faith is. It is not time for you to hide in the shadows. It is time for you to live out of the substance of His presence. In order to do that, you are going to have to kick your faith into high gear. Don’t get fooled into these fake spiritual practices.
When we have the conviction that we know that He who hath begun a good work will be faithful to complete it, we won’t settle for a type of spirituality that is less than what faith in Christ has to offer us. Everything about our lives is to center us more deeply in Jesus so that he can spread us higher and wider for Him.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.
Colossians 2:8-10 (KJV)
Walking in a relationship with God does not have to be complicated, we just need to have faith in Jesus Christ. Our spiritual lives are not a secret life revealed only to a select few. It is not an abstract theory to be danced around as an academic exercise. It is not an intellectual sport where we compete against one another to see who is more spiritual. Neither is it a system of laws to abide by that have nothing to do with the human heart. Paul tells us that living a spiritual life in relationship with God is much more subtle and guaranteed. God extended a spiritual pathway through His Son and said that we don’t need to worry about all the other complexities. We just need to have faith in Jesus.
In order to walk in faith, we need to live out of the substance of His presence. We should believe in His reality, live confidently in His complete work in us, imitate His example, and reflect Him with our interactions. To live in His presence, we must kick our faith into a higher gear. We can no longer be satisfied with anything less than a relationship with Christ. Paul said we need to stop merely studying the subject and start living it.
Everything about our lives is to develop our roots in Christ, which allows us to be built up and established in Him. Whatever we may be experiencing is deepening our relationships with Christ, broadening our understanding of His work, and challenging our assertions about Him so that we may become convicted disciples. Because of His root work, we are maturing progressively and being built up into a powerful expression of His presence. It is important for us to continually submit to God and His work in us so that we may continue to grow. With deepening roots and growing maturity, we can understand our establishment in Him. God has a covenant with us that cannot be broken, not even by our insignificant contribution on our side of the covenant. God tells us that He won’t cast us aside, He won’t forsake us, He won’t leave us, He won’t stop loving us. We will never be lacking God's perfect love.
Once we are established, our faith is kicked into a higher gear. God says to watch out for others who try to dazzle us with big words and intellectual double talk, as they want to drag us to emptiness. The universe is empty without Christ, but with Him, we are able to maturely respond to others. Because we are rooted, built up, and established in Jesus Christ, we have the capability of hearing and seeing Him clearly. We no longer need to live in insecurity, doubt our future, question our faith, or live as a prisoner to others’ opinions. God wants us to know that we are established and complete in Him.
Then God said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet [out of respect], because the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” Then He said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
Exodus 3:5-6 AMP
Moses’ curiosity brings him to a bush that is burning but is strangely not being consumed. Over the last forty years of Moses’ life, everything has been pushing him to this moment. God is about to deliver His call on Moses’ life—a call that will change everything for the Israelites.
This divinely orchestrated introduction between God and Moses is an intricate one. God not only wants Moses to be aware of his human purpose, to liberate the Israelites, but God also wants to set up the patterns by which God and Moses will interact in the future.
In modern times, we expect God to be easily accessed, touched, and casually related to. But our culture has forgotten that God is to be approached with awe and reverence and mystery. It is less important for our spiritual pursuits to discover who we are, but it is critically important that we discover who God is.
Spiritual connection, or holiness, is not natural for humans. Holiness invites us to accept the reality that we are not the most important thing in our lives. When God introduced Himself to Moses, He set up patterns that showed Moses the enormous gap between His divinity and Moses’ humanity.
God did not create us for this distance or divide, but sin created distance. We see this first with Adam and Eve, who attempted to cover themselves and were ashamed before God. Eventually they were evicted from the garden, but that sin was forgiven in Jesus’ sacrifice. God is now to us what He has always been. He is the initiator. He is working to get us back into intimacy.
Even when Moses approaches the burning bush, God tells him not to come near and to take his shoes off, out of respect. God, on the one hand, is drawing Moses in, and on the other hand, it appears that He is keeping Moses at a distance. However, this warning is for Moses’ teaching and training.
Moses didn’t know that by approaching the bush that he was consenting to being used by God. But God set to work, setting up patterns for Moses’ life, teaching and training him how to act and work with the Almighty God.
The first thing that God teaches Moses is that God is not to be approached commonly, carelessly, or casually. God has an expectation. He expects a certain mindset and discipline from us, too. God says to us, he who would come to Me must first believe that I am God, and I am a rewarder of those who would diligently seek after me.