Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Untying the binding

I noticed an interesting parallel in one of Jesus' illustrations. Now for some readers this may have been patently obvious, but perhaps a reader or 2 may have been a little oblivious like yours truly.

In Luke we read how Jesus healed a woman with kyphosis.
Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, "Woman, you are freed from your disability." And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, "There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day." Then the Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?" As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him. (Luke 13)
I had previously read this as comparing compassion for an animal with that for a person: you treat animals well, how much more so a person. There is some warrant for this in the passage and in a similar scenario. When Jesus healed the man with a withered hand he specified this comparison:
He said to them, "Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep!"
But what I had not previously noted in the passage was the comparison with untying the animal. Paraphrased:
  • In the same way you untie an animal for water on a Sabbath day that you had tied up only a day before,
  • so I am untying this woman from infirmity on a Sabbath day that Satan has kept tied up for 18 years.
The contrast is striking. Jesus shamed the Pharisees and they should have taken the rebuke, instead they conspired to kill him.

I suspected the term for "untie" and "loosed" may be similar in Greek. They are in fact the same.
  • Loosed (λυω, luo) from the manger; compare with
  • Loosed (luo) from the bond.

Ox or Donkey
Woman with disabling spirit
Animal
Person
Property
Daughter of Abraham
Bound 1 day
Bound 18 years
Bound by owner
Bound by Satan
Unbound for water
Unbound for wholeness

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