Set Free

With just about three weeks to Palm Sunday, we will be turning to Luke’s account of what has been called the Perean ministry of Jesus, referring to the area in which he ministered during the time prior to his heading to Jerusalem.

Today’s passage of interest is Luke 13:10-17.

It tells of how Jesus compassionately and miraculously healed a woman of an infirmity which had tormented her for almost twenty years.  One would think this would have not only amazed but would have also pleased the religious and so-called righteous folk who were closely following the work of Jesus.

But there was a problem.  He healed the woman on the Sabbath – and thus violated their precious rule about not working on that day.  It was a day of rest.  So, heal her the next day.  After all, what’s one more day after twenty years of torment?

Jesus would have nothing of it and was quick to condemn his critics for their legalistic, and extremely insensitive, attitude.

I can’t help but wonder – as many must have in Jesus’ day – how legalism can so quickly squelch love.

As we follow Jesus in the coming days we should ponder carefully how we might be tempted to do that.  We should keep watch over our own tendencies to quote scripture, chapter and verse, or advise ritual observance, to the letter, and forget that our God is a God of love, compassion, and healing.

May we listen first, love fully, yes – hold to spiritual truths – but at the same time – heal with our actions and our words in all we do.  That is how people will know we are followers of Jesus – by our love.  That is how we can, in God’s name, set people free from whatever it is that so cruelly torments them.

Sounds like a good way to spend a Sabbath.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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