Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath.  And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight.  When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.”  When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.  But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.”  But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water?  And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?”  When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
We hear a lot about how much Jesus loves people and in today’s gospel text we see that love in action. Jesus, sees this woman suffering from a crippling spirit for 18 years, calls her over and heals her—freeing her not only from the physical pain, but also the emotional and mental anguish she’s suffered for 18 years.
One would expect such a miracle to be met with rejoicing, but instead there is opposition, significant opposition from the leader of synagogue. This wasn’t just some random crank, but an influential leader in the community who was upset with Jesus healing on the sabbath. He doesn’t keep his indignation to himself, but turns to the gathered crowd, trying to stir them up against Jesus’ actions, saying it could and should have happened any other day but the sabbath.
Jesus isn’t cowed, but defends this healing and the woman blessed by his deeds. He points out that even the law allows for common farm animals to be cared for on the sabbath—how much more so should this daughter of Abraham, this child of God be healed on the Lord’s day? If God loves His children above all else, what could possibly be more pleasing than to see one of those children set free from pain and suffering on this day.
The crowd responded with rejoicing and his opponents were put to shame. It could have very easily gone the other way, the crowd siding with the synagogue leader against Jesus (Scripture records such unfavorable reactions). No matter, Jesus took the side of the suffering woman, not just in his words but also his actions that she might be healed and made whole.