10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 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. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. 14 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.” 15 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? 16 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?” 17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing. Luke 13:10-17
Paying attention to detail is a good idea. Ever mindlessly driven down the highway, looked down and realized you were speeding – really speeding? Ever walked out of the grocery store without buying what you went in for? Ever made a significant mistake because you weren’t paying attention? It is important to pay attention to the details.
When reading scripture, there is an important twist on an old adage – “God is in the details.” There are a couple of details in the reading for today that are consequential to proper understanding. The truth is, God is in the details of this reading and we should pay attention.
You know the gist of the story, the synagogue rulers are not happy that Jesus is violating the rules of the Sabbath. They voice their displeasure right in front of everyone. Jesus returns serve by pointing to things that they all did, “work” they all performed on the Sabbath; probably work that they had done that morning. Everyone applauds and Jesus is the hero.
There is more to the story though. It is in the details. Jesus goes one step further than merely pointing out the fault of not working on the Sabbath, even to do good. Jesus asks the synagogue rulers, “Don’t you free your animals to drink water every day, even on the Sabbath? You don’t want them to go without their basic needs, right? Then why shouldn’t I free this woman who has been without her basic needs for eighteen years?” The word that is used for the healing of the woman and the setting free of the animal is the same. Jesus is pointing to the fact that his opponents care more about barnyard animals than about a person. Absurd, right? This is an important detail. Jesus is teaching us that he cares about people who are hurting – people like us. The crippling disease might be different but the effect is the same. We are diseased with sin. Jesus came to heal. From this place of healing – and only from this place – we are invited to see other people as of utmost importance to God.