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Gospel according to Luke 13: 10-17 (NIV)
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.
Jesus had no time for hypocrisy! The Gospels record his condemnation of hypocrites on no fewer than seventeen occasions. Here it was not only the leader of the synagogue whose hypocrisy was the subject of Jesus’ ire. Jesus seemed to address all those who were gathered there. Perhaps he had seen heads nodding in agreement with the synagogue leader’s remark (verse 14).
We recognise hypocrisy in that the synagogue leader did not criticise Jesus directly; his remarks were to the people who, he seemed to allege, had come to the synagogue on the Sabbath in order to be healed. Jesus could see through this ploy for Jesus knows all people; he knows what is in each person (Matthew 9: 4; Mark 2: 8; Luke 5: 22; John 2: 24, 25).
Jesus also saw the hypocrisy of those who would use the Law (the fourth Commandment) to forbid the healing of people but would allow leniency in the observation of that same Commandment when it came to the care of their livestock.
It requires of us great insight and humility to avoid hypocrisy ourselves. We try to live rightly by a number of principles but these principles can often be in conflict. Jesus would have us live according to his ways however discerning what these would be for every situation in the twenty-first century is a challenge to us all.
We need the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to guide us and to be a conscience-prodder for us. We need too an ability and a willingness to listen to the Spirit’s soft voice as we go about our noisy days.
1 In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
2 In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;
turn your ear to me and save me.
3 Be my rock of refuge,
to which I can always go;
give the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
5For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord,
my confidence since my youth.
Psalm 71: 1-3, 5