Our Good, God’s Glory

Sabbath Study, Part 24

Because of God’s holiness and man’s sinfulness, it is right for us to ask in humble bewilderment, “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” (Ps. 8:4). Why does God show kindness to sinners by offering them rest (among many other acts of mercy and grace)? The answer to this question is illustrated in our next Sabbath story.

Now 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 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, “Hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or 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)

The ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation.
“He condemned Jesus for relieving on the Sabbath an infirm woman, who had suffered for eighteen years, when he would himself perform more labor for the relief of an animal from thirst for a single day” (Justin Edwards).

Does not each one of you.
“It was their tradition and not the Sabbath which Jesus had broken, and he here attempts no other justification of himself than to show that he is guiltless under a fair application of their own precedents” (J. W. McGarvey).

Loosed from this bond.
The miracle Jesus performed was not a work of necessity, for this woman had been sick for 18 years and could have gone another day without being restored. However, her healing was an act of mercy, and as such fit perfectly well within the bounds of Sabbath limitations.

In these New Testament stories of so-called Sabbath breaking (and there are more examples to follow), Jesus is showing us the greatness of both His love and humility. He said elsewhere that He came to serve, not to be served (Mr. 10:45). We learned in Mark 2:27 that God designed the Sabbath for the good of man, and we see throughout the New Testament Jesus illustrating this principle by healing people on the Sabbath. Through His example, Jesus demonstrated that the Sabbath was designed to be in the service of man: to benefit him, to restore him, to improve his quality of life.

That’s not to say that man is at the center of God’s purposes. On the contrary, God is most concerned with glorifying His name; that is ultimately why the heavens exist (Ps. 19:1, 97:6; Rom. 1:18-21), why the world exists (Num. 14:21; Ps. 72:19; Is. 6:3; Hab. 2:14), why God came to the earth as a man (Jn. 12:28; 17:1, 5), and why Christ is coming back to establish His kingdom for all eternity (2 Thes. 1:9, 10). God’s glory is at the center of all He does, and it should be at the center of all we do (Mt. 5:16; Rom. 15:6; 1 Cor. 10:31).

The reason God condescends to serve mankind is so that His name might be glorified. As John Piper famously says, God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. This story in Luke is a good example: “She was made straight [Jesus served her, for her benefit],” and the result was that she “glorified God [the final end product of any and all God’s works].”

Commentaries Cited from
Hall, Kay.
Online Bible. Beersheba Springs: Ken Hamel, 2000. CD-ROM.

Commentaries Used
The Family Bible Notes, by Justin Edwards
Commentaries and Topical Studies, by J. W. McGarvey