Lesson: Luke 13:10-17
The closing ceremony for the 2016 Olympics is tonight, and I, for one, am sad. I’ll miss the breathtaking daring of the gymnastics; the excitement of a sprint; the sheer skill, effort and dedication of the athletes, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. Especially this year, when it not only gives us a break from the presidential campaign news but also lifts up values sometimes missing in that campaign, values such as international cooperation and friendship, and good sportsmanship.
I’ve been intrigued by some of the Olympic’s arcane rules. Did you know that a false start in a track race results in automatic disqualification? Talk about heartbreaking. You prepare for years to get to the Olympics; one false start and it’s over. You go home without even running the race. Anyone in the pressure of the moment, with the whole world watching, could make a mistake like jumping the gun. It happened to several runners this year and it even happened to Usain Bolt in a world championship in 2011. So I looked it up. It used to be that one false start resulted in a warning to all the runners. Anyone in the same race who jumped the gun a second time would be disqualified, even if it wasn’t the first offender. But what was happening was that slower runners would jump the gun on purpose to throw off everyone else’s timing and give themselves an edge. So in 2010, they changed the rule.
So there’s a good reason for this harsh rule. In today’s passage in Luke, Jesus is confronted with a rule that, in this context, seems harsh. The disagreement arises when a woman with a debilitating spinal condition shows up on a Sabbath while Jesus is teaching. Jesus sees her, touches her, heals her. The indignant religious leader fumes: “There are six days on which work ought to be done.” He’s referring to the fourth commandment of the Ten Commandments: “Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work – you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.” Read more →