Luke 13:10-17 Devotional & Commentary: Hypocrisy

Devotional Sharing, Submitted by Andrew Iskandar, Gracepoint, Hsinchu, Taiwan

What is surprising about the synagogue ruler’s response to the healing?

What is surprising about the the syangogue ruler’s response to the healing is how cold-hearted it was. There was no regard for the plight of this woman who had been crippled for over 18 years! All he cared about was the law and legal sysmte that he and his fellow religious rulers had defined to systemize obeying the Sabbath. There was no amazement at the healing or any rejoicing at how this woman’s life was restored. All he cared about was the Sabbath law and how Jesus had broken it. Observing the Sabbath had become a system of rules and regulations rather than a means of relating to God for them. And because of this, they were blind to the reality of God’s heart for people.

The synagogue ruler’s anger revealed his hypocrisy. What would be revealed about me from closely observing what I get angry about?

If someone closely observed what I got angry about, it would reveal my pettiness and self-centeredness. I get very angry at small things that affect my life only. If something annoys me or inconveniences me, then I get angry and passionate about it. I criticize what happened and try to find a way and means to fix or address it. I get disproportionately angry towards the size of the event/circumstances when it affects me. However, I rarely get as passionately angry towards large/bigger picture issues that would anger and bother God. Sure, I can read about the trafficking of people as slaves and prostitutes, the murder of some innocent children, or the suffering in some part of the world as a result of some dictator, but it doesn’t elicit the same kind of passionate response because it doesn’t directly affect me. I get angrier at getting cut-off in traffic or when my trash bag breaks spilling garbage all around me. And this reveals that the center of my life is still me and what happens to me.

Is there a relationship between what angers me and what “cripples” my heart from functioning as God intended?

There is definitely a relationship between what angers me and what “cripples” my heart from functioning as God intended. Clearly, God does not want me to be so emotional towards the petty things that get me angry. When I get angry, it consumes my energy and emotions and it’s not worth it to get so worked up about small things. God wants me to get angry at what he gets angry. In a way, what I get angry at reveals where my heart and treasure is also. And so when I get angry at small things that only affect myself, my heart and my treasure are still centered around me and so I am “crippled” in this way. God wants me to get angry at bigger things, like sin in this world. When I get angry at sin in this world (and within me) my energy and passions get directed in a positive direction and lead me to act and move, to repent and address it. If I don’t get angry at sin, that means I tolerate it. I don’t ever want to be “crippled” in this way. I read an article about how the Catholic priests could not get angry at sin within the clergy regarding the child abuse scandals and how it perpetuated the sin. This is the danger of not properly directing anger towards sin. I want to be angry at sin within this world and within me.

Devotion Questions:

  • Reflect on Jesus’ compassion on this woman who was crippled for 18 years.  What hope is there for areas of my life that I find crippled in some way?
  • What is surprising about the synagogue ruler’s response to the healing?
  • The synagogue ruler’s anger revealed his hypocrisy.  What would be revealed about me from closely observing what I get angry about?
  • Is there a relationship between what angers me and what “cripples” my heart from functioning as God intended?

Commentary:

vv.10-17 This is the last time we ever hear of Jesus being in a synagogue. It is clear that by this time the authorities were watching his every action and waiting to pounce upon him whenever they got the chance. Jesus healed a woman who for eighteen years had not been able to straighten her bent body; and then the president of the synagogue intervened. He had not even the courage to speak directly to Jesus. He addressed his protest to the waiting people, although it was meant for Jesus. Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; technically healing was work; and, therefore he had broken the Sabbath. But he answered his opponents out of their own law. The Rabbis abhorred cruelty to dumb animals and, even on the Sabbath, it was perfectly legal to loose beasts from their stalls and water them. Jesus demanded, ‘If you can loose a beast from a stall and water him on the Sabbath day, surely it is right in the sight of God to loose this poor woman from her infirmity. […] The president of the synagogue and those like him were people who loved systems more than people. They were more concerned that their own petty little laws should be observed than that a woman should be helped.[1]


[1]The Gospel of Luke. 2000, c1975 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow., Ed.). The Daily Study Bible series, Rev. ed. (Lk 13:18). Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

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