Lectionary Reading Blog for 21 August: 13th Sunday after Trinity

LiturgyandSpiritualityIn this passage Jesus has a typical rabbinical discussion with the leader of the synagogue.

It seems as if the leader of the synagogue is trying to keep order in the synagogue without taking Jesus on, talking with the crowd rather than with Jesus.

This is remarkable as the healing was Jesus’ initiative not the woman’s. She has not asked for it. Jesus again taking the initiative does want the debate with the leader of the synagogue. A doctor was allowed to treat emergencies on the Sabbath but not a chronic disease such as this. Jesus compares what he does not with the work of a doctor but with setting your animals free so they can drink: this was allowed on the Sabbath. Jesus does not change the law of the Sabbath he just interprets the situation differently.

Shame seems a very strong word to use for losing a discussion and it is strange that the one leader has turned into “all his opponents”. As if this is just one example of many arguments over the law that Jesus tended to win. The crowd was of course more interested in what Jesus was doing than in what he was saying. That is the same today: the good news of the gospel is not found in the minutia of the law but in its transforming power.

21 August 2016
Luke 13: 10-17

PS: This leader could have been a woman as Brumbach (2007, 9) claims: “Inscriptions discovered in ancient synagogues (…) testify to women having served in various leadership capacities (…). These inscriptions include heads of synagogues…”

(http://www.messianicjudaism.me/yinon/files/Women-Rabbis-MJRC-Revision.pdf. Accessed 04/08/16. This is supported by research done by Brooten (1982): Women Leaders in the Ancient Synagogue: Inscriptional Evidence and Background Issues.)


This weekly blog on one of the lectionary readings is by Anne Claar Thomasson-Rosingh, Programme Leader for Lifelong Learning at Sarum College.

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