Are we truly free in Christ or are we still in a state of bondage?
I want us to learn that religious bondage is every bit as bad as slavery.
We will discuss biblical guidelines for healing, the Sabbath and freedom.
Healing is described in many passages throughout the Bible and sometimes we Christians are tempted to turn one or another passage into a formula. For instance, the passage in James 5:13-16 can seem like a formula with prayer, faith and anointing oil, but we must not forget the many other examples throughout the Bible where people were healed, perhaps with a ritual such as dipping seven times into the Jordan or making mud from spit and dirt. Other times no ritual was involved other than the touch of Jesus. In Luke 13:10-17 a woman was healed by Jesus. When often the ingredient of faith is a vital part of the healing, in this story faith was not even mentioned. Unlike James’ instruction where the sick call for the elders, Jesus called the woman forward and simply touched her.
Biblical guidelines or weird inventions
The Bible gives various ways that healing was done. What about proxy anointing? That is where one person is anointed for the healing of another. It is not in the Bible, though prayers for the sick are. Jesus once healed a centurion’s servant from afar (Matthew 5:8-13), but he did not anoint the officer. The idea may come from the Mormon ritual of baptism for the dead and is found among some Pentecostal churches. One mainstream church bans it and a Catholic priest believed that it made a mockery of anointing the sick. Jesus went to the sick (Luke 13:10-17). James instructed the sick to call for the elders not send a proxy (James 5:13-16) and if the elder cannot come, we have the example of Paul sending forth cloths to the sick (Acts 19:11-12). Proxy a novelty and all religious novelties are risky, but biblical guidelines are always a safe haven.
Jesus came to set us free
Religion ought to set us free but sometimes holds us in bondage (Luke 13:10-17). What better day to set someone free from sickness than the Sabbath day, a day of freedom from our week’s labor. A rest day also pictures our rest in Christ. New Testament believers keep a Sabbath in the spirit not the letter of the law and so most Christians take a Sabbath of convenience according to either western custom or the necessity of providing for a family. Most westerners may find Sunday convenient, but others like doctors, firefighters, police officers and pastors will choose another day of the week. Without a proper Sabbath, our bodies suffer and we get sick. Our spiritual lives become weaker. A Sabbath day ought to free us so as to provide rest for our bodies and rejuvenation of our spirits.
Fiction of freedom in the world
Our world promises us freedom but it is a sham. It may be a car, a get rich quick scheme, a political or religion system. But none of those things can guarantee the freedom that Jesus promises. Cars are a burden. They enslave us to debt and the daily commute. Get rich quick schemes have been engaged in by banks and Wall Street traders leaving ruined lives in their wake. Political systems of this world enslave us to unbridled regulations and burdensome overreach. There is a spirit which enslaves and even religious people can fall prey to it. This spirit had also crippled a woman for eighteen years (Luke 13:10-17) and those enslaved to human religion refused to give her freedom on the Sabbath day. No human scheme of this world set her free. Jesus gave it to her.
Bondage to law or Sabbath freedom
Luke 13:10-17 is about two people in bondage, a religious person and a crippled woman. The one was in bondage to human traditions and the letter of the law. The other was in bondage to a crippling spirit. Both needed the healing touch of Jesus. Israel had been in slavery for hundreds of years without rest. Then came the Exodus and the Ten Commandments and the blessing of a rest day. It was a day with much meaning for a people just freed from Egyptian slavery where they worked without rest making bricks. Though devout, the Pharisee missed the point of the weekly rest day. The purpose of the law was freedom not bondage. Just as Jesus freed the crippled woman, so too is any regulation or tradition no good if it leaves us in bondage instead of freedom.
Jesus came to set us free from sickness and petty religious rules. Let us live in that freedom from Christ.