Obrazy na stronie
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328 MAN WITH A WITHERED HAND RESTORED.

his throne by Roman influence, —if between them they may bring to nothing this new power which is equally menacing to both. So, on a later occasion (Matt. xxii. 16), the same parties are leagued together to ensnare Him. For thus it is ever with the sinful world. Its factions, divided against one another, can get lay aside for the moment their mutual jealousies and enmities, to join in a common conspiracy against the truth. The kingdom of lies is no longer a kingdom divided against itself, when the kingdom of the truth is to be opposed. Between lie and lie there are always points of contact, so that they can act together for a while; it is only between a lie and the truth that there is absolute opposition, and no compromise possible. Herod and Pilate can be friends together, if it be for the destroying of the Christ (Luke xxiii. 12). The Lord, aware of the machinations of his enemies, withdraws from their malice to his safer retirements in the immediate neighbourhood of the sea of Galilee (Mark iü. 7).

20. THE RESTORING OF THE WOMAN WITH A SPIRIT

OF INFIRMITY.

LUKE xiii. 10-17.

WE

E have here another of our Lord's cures, which, being

accomplished on the Sabbath, awoke the indignation of the rulers of the Jewish Church; cures, of which many, though not all, are recorded chiefly for the sake of showing how the Lord dealt with these cavillers; and what He Himself contemplated as the true hallowing of that day. This being the main point which the Evangelist has in his eye, everything else falls into the background. We are not told where this healing took place; but only that · He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. While there was but one temple in the land, and indeed for all Jews in all the world,—for that on Mount Gerizim and that in Egypt were impostures (John iv. 22),--there were synagogues in every place; and in these, on every Sabbath, prayer was wont to be made, and the Scriptures of the Old Testament read and explained (Luke iv. 16, 17; Acts xiii. 14, 15; XV. 21). * And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in nowise lift up herself.' Had we only these words, 'a spirit of infirmity,' we might doubt whether St. Luke meant to trace up her complaint to any other than the natural causes, whence flow the weaknesses and sufferings which afflict our race. But the Lord's later commentary on these

words, whom Satan hath bound,'—shows that her calamity had a deeper spiritual root; though the type of her possession was infinitely milder than that of many others, as is plain from her permitted presence at the public worship of God. Her sickness having its first seat in her spirit, had brought her into a moody melancholic state, of which the outward contraction of the muscles of her body, the inability to lift herself, was but the sign and the consequence.

. And when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him, and said, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity,'not waiting till his aid was sought (cf. John v. 6), though possibly her presence there may have been, on her part, a tacit seeking of that aid; as much seems implied in the words of the ruler of the synagogue, bidding the multitude upon other days than the Sabbath to come and be healed.' · And He

1 This woman is often contemplated as the representative of all those whom the poet addresses

Oh curvæ in terras animæ ! the erect countenance of man, in contrast with that bent downward of all other creatures, being the sign impressed upon his outward frame, of his nobler destiny, of a heavenly hope, with which they have nothing in common :

Os homini sublime dedit, cælumque tueri

Jussit, et erectos in sidera tollere vultus : and Juvenal, Sat. xv. 142–147, in a nobler strain: cf. Plato, Timæus, 90 A.; and the derivation by some of äv@pw noc, as the upward-looking. On the other hand, the looks ever bent upon the ground are a natural symbol of a heart and soul turned earthward altogether, and wholly forgetful of man's true good, which is not beneath, but above, him. Thus of Mammon Milton writes:

• Mammon, the least erected spirit that fell
From heaven; for even in heaven his looks and thoughts

Were always downward bent.' Thus Augustine (Enarr. ii. in Ps. lxviii. 24): Qui bene audit, Sursum cor, curvum dorsum non habet. Erectâ quippe staturâ exspectat spem repositam sibi in cælo. . . . At vero qui futuræ vitæ spem non intelligunt, jam excæcati, de inferioribus cogitant: et hoc est habere dorsum curvum, a quo morbo Dominus mulierem illam liberavit. Cf. Enarr. in Ps. xxxvii. 7; Quæst. Evang. ii. qu. 29; Ambrose, Hexaëm. iii. 12; Theophylact (in loc.): Ταύτα δέ μοι λάμβανε τα θαύματα και επί τον εντός άνθρωπον συγκύπτει γάρ ψυχή όταν επί τάς γηίνας μόνας φροντίδας νεύη, και μηδέν ουράνιον ή θείον φαντάζηται. .

laid his hands on her, ' _- this act of power, no doubt, accompanying those words of power; and from Him there streamed into her the currents of a new life, so that the bands, spiritual and bodily, by which she was held, were loosened; and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God' (Luke xvii. 15; xviii. 43); others, no doubt, of those present glorifying God with her (Matt. ix. 8; xv. 31). Some part of this glory could not but redound to Him, the immediate author of her cure. But there was one who could ill endure to be a witness of this (cf. Matt. xxi. 15, 16). That day of gladness, when, as these evident tokens declared, God had visited his people, and raised up a great prophet among them, and given such power to men, was a day of fierce displeasure to him. He, the ruler of the synagogue,' interrupting, and so far as in him lay, marring that festival of joy,' answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the Sabbath.' Not venturing directly to come into collision with the Lord, he seeks circuitously and covertly to reach Him through the people, who were more under his influence, and whom he feared less. He takes advantage of his position as interpreter of the oracles of God; and from • Moses' seat' would fain persuade them that this work done to the glory of God—this undoing of the heavy burden—this unloosing the chain of Satan,—was a servile work, and one thereforė forbidden on the Sabbath. Rebuking them for coming to be healed, he indeed has another in his eye, and means that rebuke to glance off on Him, who upon this day had been willing to be a Healer.

The Lord takes him up with unusual severity. Thou

Chrysostom (in Cramer, Catena): IIpogeniti@noi xai xeipas aŭti, να μάθωμεν ότι την του θεού λόγον [λόγου ?] δύναμίν τε και ενέργειαν ή αγία πεφόρηκε σάρξ. .

Augustine (Enarr. ii. in Ps. lxviii. 24): Bene scandalizati sunt de illâ erectâ, ipsi curvi. And again (Serm. cccxcii. 1): Calumniabantur autem erigenti, qui, nisi curvi ?

2

hypocrite !' He calls him-zeal for God being only the cloak which he wore, to hide from others, or perhaps in a more hopeless hypocrisy still, from himself as well, his hatred to all which was holy and divine. And this his hypocrisy Christ proceeds to lay bare to him, making him to feel that, however he might plead to himself or to others the violation of the Sabbath as the cause of his indignation, its real ground lay in the fact that Christ was glorified by the cure upon that day wrought: · Doth not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?' Every word of this answer tells. He does not so much defend his breach of the Sabbath, as deny that He has broken it at all :) You have your relaxations of the Sabbath's strictness, required by the very nature and necessities of your earthly condition; you make no difficulty in the matter, where, through work left undone on the Sabbath, loss would ensue to you in your earthly possessions. Your ox and your ass are precious in your sight, and, whatever you may hold or teach concerning the strictness with which the Sabbath should be kept, disciples of Hillel or disciples of Schammai, you loose them on that day; yet are angry now that I should loose a human spirit, which as such is of more value than many beasts. And these animals, when you unloose them, have not been tied up for more than a few hours; while I, in your thoughts, may not unloose from the thraldom of Satan this captive of eighteen years. Yours too is a laborious process of unfastening and

i Tertullian (Adv. Marc. iv. 30): Unusquisque vestrâm sabbatis non solvit asinum aut bovem suum a præsepi et ducit ad potum ? Ergo secundum conditionem legis operatus, legem confirmavit, non dissolvit, jubentem nullum opus fieri, nisi quod fieret omni animæ, quanto potius humanæ. Cf. Irenæus, Con. Har. iv. 8.

2 Ambrose (Erp. in Luc. vii. 175): Vinculum vinculo comparat. ... Cum ipsi animalibus sabbato solvunt vincula, reprehendunt Dominum, qui homines a peccatorum vinculis liberavit.

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