Luke 13: 10-17 “On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.”
Remember this? “…Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?”
18 is the connection.
I am not an expert in numerology but if it means anything in the 2 stories it means pain and suffering.
Luke positions them together for a reason.
The general thought was that those who died under the collapsing of a tower in Siloam must have done something wrong. That was certainly the thought amongst the religious leaders. “NO” said Jesus. He went further and said unless they repented they would be the ones to perish.
Next, he is in the synagogue. A woman was there who for 18 years was crippled so badly she never saw the sky. No one could help her. No one seemed bothered either. What was of most importance? The rules were kept, rules of the Sabbath.
The synagogue leader is quoting the Ten Commandments, “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.” (Deut 5:15) Of course he is actually speaking of the interpretation of that verse. Namely, no one can be healed on the Sabbath because that is classed as work. The Sabbath was a celebration of being released from bondage and Luke tells us that this woman was also bound.
18 years of being held captive.
The Israelites were subject to Eglon king of Moab for eighteen years. (Judges 3:4)
For eighteen years they (the Ammonites) oppressed all the Israelites on the east side of the Jordan in Gilead, the land of the Amorites. (Judges 10:8)
What happened in the Judges happens in the synagogue that day. God sends a deliverer, a Saviour, to those who are bound. His mission is to release the prisoners from darkness and there was no better day than the Sabbath to do that. The day of celebration from bondage indeed and Luke tells us how the woman straightened up and praised God! She is free!
The synagogue leader is furious but he is humiliated. Jesus has shown that tied-up animals are treated better than this bound woman.
So throwing all that together:
- It is so easy to have a wrong opinion about a story like the 18 deaths. (Saying ‘I don’t know why’ probably needs to happen more often but it needs to be said with no passing judgment).
- Don’t build a philosophy of life on a tragedy. (The 18 people that died does not show that unless you are obedient bad things happen).
- How can someone celebrate a freedom story when for 18 years they have been held in suffering? (We have to answer the many who say, ‘what about me?’)
- The trauma of 18 (pain and suffering) needs a Saviour. (Look around today and you will see the trapped)
- Don’t let your interpretation of what God has done (the Exodus Deliverance) cloud who God is (the Sabbath Deliverer).