Hypocrisy: How Bad It Can Get
“Now as 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 his 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).
This account is from the middle of the book of Luke, so it is another in a series of many miracles. Some, however, are no closer to the truth and no closer to acknowledging their own accountability. Some who witness this even want to use the miracle as evidence that Jesus doesn’t really respect the law of Moses.
This woman’s infirmity (“crippled by a spirit,” NIV) had lasted for 18 years. She was so disabled, she was bent over and “could in no way raise herself up.” Jesus healed her and “immediately she was made straight, and gloried God.”
The multitude “rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by” Jesus (v.17), but “the ruler of the synagogue” was indignant. Jesus had healed on
the Sabbath and as the ruler applied the traditions and man-made rules, Jesus had violated one of their rules. [Jesus never ever violated any real law of God. While God has spoken about the Sabbath and had imposed restrictions against labor, the law applied against Jesus by the indignant synagogue ruler was not God’s law; it was man’s law, an unauthorized human addition.]
Jesus responded by showing how hypocritical the ruler was. Typically, the ruler and other Jewish men would violate their own rules when taking care
of their animals. Jesus didn’t violate the real law of God, yet he took care of a person, “a daughter of Abraham who Satan had abound.”
The story shows just how stubborn unbelief can be. After so many miracles and testimony about Jesus’ power, additional miracles seem to actually have an paradoxical impact. The witnesses who have already decided to reject Jesus, harden their hearts against Him with each additional miracle. The incident shows how stubborn unbelief can be, even in the face of abundant evidence that Jesus is God’s Son.
These men have created their own “non-labor law” for the Sabbath (going much further than the original law God gave). They stretch their own law
wide enough to allow them to take care of their animals, but such “grace” doesn’t apply to Jesus and a victim of Satanic infirmity.
Once we decide we will not believe something (against the evidence), we may become so hardened in our unbelief, we become ridiculous (and apparent). Our reaction is immature and shows our hypocrisy. To make allowances in a man-made religious law to cover animals, but deny the Son of
God the right to help a “daughter of Abraham who Satan had bound,” is an example of the level of hypocrisy each one of us should pray and study to
avoid. Healthy, daily pursuit of righteousness can prevent this ugly hypocritical poison.
By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 17.4; April 2010