Luke 13: 10 – 17
What does it mean to be set free? In our text from Luke’s Gospel, a woman appears in the synagogue where Jesus is teaching. She has been bent over and has not been able to stand straight for eighteen years (13:11-12). Jesus insists that the woman be set free, released from her bondage, even on the sabbath day (13:12; 16). I’ve often wondered, when hearing this story, what it could have felt like, to be so changed? The woman has gone from looking down at the world, to looking up and she “began praising God” (13:12).
The woman was bound, then she is set free. There are more ways to be bound than by sickness or ill health. We can be bound by fear. We can be bound by our own thoughts or anxieties. We can be bound by social conventions or expectations. We can be bound by what has happened in the past. We can be bound by envy or anger. We can be bound by violence, physical and emotional.
This story is about far more than a woman who has been made straight. Jesus, through his actions and his words, is announcing the coming Kingdom, the reign of God. The crowd rejoices at the woman being set free (13:17). Jesus continues teaching. He asks, what is the Kingdom of God like? (13:19). I imagine him holding the woman’s hand up high as he asks this. I imagine her, as Jesus continues teaching, turning around and around, her face to the sky. Her eyes filled with delight.
Theologian Hans Kung, says that the reign of God is “God’s creation healed.” I think it is this and more. It is the world and all that is in it set free to be who and what God intends. This means we are not bound by anything but by God’s love. I’d imagine this is what the prophet Isaiah could have had in mind when he wrote: “In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all” (11:6).
In the meantime, we as Christians are called to act in ways that embody God’s love. In our own way, we each have a role in setting free those who are bound. We can become a word of hope to those around us. We can work to bring God’s justice, mercy and peace. We can speak up for the last and the least and work to bring God’s Kingdom here on earth.
Yours in Christ, Kathryn