First two Sabbath healing miracles

Jesus heals the sick on the Sabbath.  The first people were a demon possessed man and Simon’s mother-in-law.  Then the people brought all their sick to Him, but they waited until the end of the Sabbath.  Everybody knew that the traditions do not allow healing on the Sabbath.  Jesus, by acting contrary to the traditions, thereby powerfully condemned the traditions, as well as the Jewish system of authority, which was based on the traditions.

Summary

After Jesus was baptized, and after He overcame the temptations of the devil for forty days in the wilderness, He began His ministry.  He taught in various synagogues.  “They were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority”.

One Sabbath soon afterwards, while Jesus was teaching in a synagogue in Capernaum, a demon possessed man cried out with a loud voice and identified Jesus as “the Holy One of God“!  Jesus then drove the demon out.  This happened in the synagogue in full view of everybody.

Later that same day Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law, who was suffering from a high fever, but that was privately in Simon’s home.

Then the people brought all their sick to Him, but they waited until the end of the Sabbath, when the sun was setting.  This means that everybody knew that their traditions did not permit healing on the Sabbath.  Although nothing is reported in this chapter as said for or against Sabbath healing, we can assume that the synagogue officials were alarmed by His Sabbath healing miracles.  Jesus, who also knew the traditions very well, effectively condemned the traditions by healing on the Sabbath in public view of all.  Furthermore, since “the report about Him was spreading into every locality in the surrounding district”, these miracles laid the foundation for the later confrontations between Jesus and the Pharisees about His Sabbath healing miracles.

Discussion

Luke chapter four describes events very early in Christ’s ministry.  After Jesus was baptized (Luke 3:21) and began His ministry at the age of 30 (Luke 3:23), He “was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil” (Luke 4:1-13).  There-after He “returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14) and “began teaching in their synagogues” (4:15).  When “He came to Nazareth” (Luke 4:16) He announced Himself as the One predicted by Isaiah on whom “the spirit of the LORD” will be; to be “anointed” by God “to preach the gospel to the poor. … to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD.” (Luke 4:17-20)

This announcement is followed by two Sabbath healings.  The first was the healing of a demon-possessed man in the synagogue in Capernaum (Luke 4:31-37).  It happened while He was teaching.  “They were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority”.  But then “a man possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon … cried out with a loud voice:

Let us alone! What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are–the Holy One of God!

But Jesus rebuked the demon, commanding it to be quiet and come out of the man.  The demon then threw the man down in the midst of the people, but came out of the man without doing him any harm. Amazement came upon all and the report about Jesus spread throughout the surrounding district.

Later that same day Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law, who was suffering from a high fever (Luke 4:38-39).

Then “all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him”, and He healed them (Luke 4:40).  The whole city had gathered at the door (Mark 1:33).  But it is interesting to note that the people waited until the end of the Sabbath, when the sun was setting (Luke 4:40; cf. Mark 1:32-33), before they brought their sick.  The Old Testament says nothing specifically about healing on the Sabbath, but this incident makes it clear that healing was not permitted on the Sabbath.  This means that it was the traditions—the Jewish application of the Law—which disallowed healing on the Sabbath.

These were no ordinary healings.  These were supernatural healings.  It was God at work, but even supernatural healing was not allowed.  By implication the Jews subjected God to the Sabbath Law.

But if they disallowed supernatural healing on the Sabbath, one wonders what their attitude was towards the sick on the Sabbath.  The Pharisees were the strictest sect of the Jewish religion (Acts 26:5), and on the Sabbath they disallowed anything that even remotely looked like work.  Does that mean that they left the sick to suffer by themselves; not doing anything to help them?

Nothing is reported in this chapter about Jesus or any of the religious authorities saying anything about the Sabbath healings, but since the people waited until the end of the Sabbath to bring their sick, we can assume that all knew that Sabbath healing was not allowed.  This means that the synagogue officials would have been alarmed by His Sabbath healing miracles.  Jesus also knew their rules very well, and by healing the man on the Sabbath, in public view of all, He effectively condemned the traditions.

Furthermore, since “the report about Him was spreading into every locality in the surrounding district”, these miracles laid the foundation for the later confrontations between Jesus and the Pharisees about His Sabbath healing miracles.  The next time that Jesus “entered the synagogue and was teaching; and there was a man there whose right hand was withered”, the scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely to see if He healed on the Sabbath, so that they might find reason to accuse Him. (Luke 6:6-7)

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NEXT: The Withered Hand

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