Luke 13:10-17 What Is a Day of Rest?

10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”

17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.

What Is a Day of Rest?

This moring at Grace Fellowship, Woodstock, I preached through the Creation narrative in Genesis.  The whole seven days find their pinnacle in the seventh.  On this day God rests from all the work that he has done.  However, there must be a kind of inertia that sets in.  That is an entity continues in a state of rest or uniform motion unless an external force acts upon it.  Having launched himself into days of work, without doing extra work, God remains active.  He holds the universe togather by the essence of who he is.  No extra effort is needed.

Inertia might help us understand what a day of rest entails.  It is not a day of generating new things, pursuing new projects, or frantically completing tasks.  It is a day when we sustain that which is without worrying about that which is not.  The day of rest was made for our replenishment.  Our resources dissipate when we work.  We are somehow less for the process.  We spend ourselves.  We are not eternal and so our resources are depleted.  When we rest in God and focus a day on him, our distracted living is calmed.  The Holy God embraces in his peace and then recharges us for more activity.

If the Sabbath is made for refreshing and reflecting, the healing of a woman on a Sabbath is on target.  Jesus refreshes her.  He rescues her.  He restores her.  However, the Pharisees have made so many rules to insure rest that it is exhausting.  The police the people so thoroughly that it is stifling.  In trying to complete the task of Sabbath and not mess up, they have missed the essence of Sabbath that focuses on the condition of the heart before God.

Are you burdened by Sundays spent serving others?  Are you weary from living up to others’ expectations of how to put your feet up?  Are you dominated by a spouse’s expectations or the tyranny of the urgent?  How would Jesus set you free to rest in him?


Our hearts are truly restless until they find their rest in thee.


  1. How is this passage a mirror of one in chapter 4?
  2. Why is this repeated here?
  3. Why doesn’t Jesus just wait until the next day to heal her?
  4. How do you rest?
  5. How can you keep moving and still be at rest?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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