Even in the middle of teaching the whole congregation, Jesus notices the individual. He sees someone who is weighed down with the burden of her back ailment and he has compassion on her. To Jesus, mercy outweighs tradition every time. The religious leaders do not appreciate this. If Jesus offers healing and mercy on the Sabbath, what is to keep others from doing it? I get the feeling that they rather like seeing this woman bent over, eyes cast down, while they stand proud as peacocks up front. If they, like Jesus, had the ability to heal her, I can almost imagine them saying, “Come back during office hours.” Jesus, on the other hand, refused to let her suffer even one more minute.
How often do we refuse help we can give because it’s an inconvenient time or because we deem someone unworthy of our attention? How often do we set hard, fast rules around who we will help, how we will help, or where we will help? Is it possible to set healthy boundaries around helping others while still showing the mercy and care to which we are called as followers of Jesus?
In prayer, ask for the eyes of Jesus to see the individual needs of others and for clarity around how to help.