The woman had been crippled for eighteen years. Although her bones were fused together, her destiny was not bound to immobility. Jesus touched her and as that once rigidly fixed body straightened, her whole life began to expand in new dimensions of freedom. Ah, but it was the Sabbath. Rigidity of another kind surfaced. The Pharisees hated what they saw. Their bones of legalism merged together so tightly that they allowed no movement in their view of God…or man.
Although we disdain the mindset of the Pharisees, I have to ask myself how many “boxed-in” perspectives I allow to cripple me. I am apt to box-in myself. I will never succeed. I have nothing to give. I’m not loving enough, generous enough, smart enough, funny enough…enough for what, I don’t know, but I think you get the picture. If we’re not careful our intricately constructed limitations become self-fulfilling prophesies.
Boxing-in of others may be more subtle, but no less devastating. How often do we bind people in their weaknesses? Sometimes even after they’ve repented we persist in confining them to old patterns. I knew a woman who confessed she liked her husband better when he was a drunk. Now that he was sober, she didn’t know what to expect. She was forced to confront her own rigidity.
Of course none of these situations would occur if it weren’t for the gravest “boxed-in” breach of all. We box-in God. It’s probably due to our vain attempts to maintain control. We feel safer if we make him predictable, manageable. We take a God whose love extends beyond the wildest of dreams, whose power, knowledge and wisdom surpasses the deepest of earthly understanding and try to squeeze him into our puny framework. Just like the Pharisees.
But like the woman Jesus healed, we don’t have to remain confined to our crippling views. His touch will liberate us again…and again…and again. His ways are so much higher than ours that he can even cause us to love our fellow Pharisees. It would be kind of “Pharisitical-ish” not to.