John Kilgallen, «The Obligation to Heal (Luke 13,10-17)», Vol. 82 (2001) 402-409
Luke 13,10-17 is often considered to be a parallel to Luke 14,1-6; further, Luke 13,10-17 is often separated, in the structuring of Luke’s Gospel, from Luke 13,1-9. In this essay, there is noted the crucial difference between the key words dei= (13,14.16) and e!cestin(14,3) for the interpretations (and differences) between these two Sabbath cures. Also this essay notes the inherent unity of the cure of the bent woman with the call to repentance that precedes it.
the contrary, ‘it is necessary’ underlines the immediate proper sense of the verb used here.
The leader’s principle (from which he will draw his conclusion) speaks of the necessity ‘to work’. Clearly he is referring, while stating a principle, to work in general. But in reality he is thinking of only one ‘work’ here, that of healing. His argument is that it is necessary to heal on six days of the week, but not on the Sabbath. Again, I understand ‘necessity’ in its full sense, since there is no reason not to understand it this way.
The leader, then, concludes that the sick should come for cures, but not on the Sabbath. He is not opposed to the healing Jesus can do; in fact, his words suggest that he encourages people to come for healing.
Peculiarly, the leader does not address his words to Jesus (though obviously Jesus hears them and to them he reacts vigorously). I think this is so, because, while respecting the good done by the healer, he finds fault with those who move the healer to heal. It is they who need instruction, for it is they who provoke the situation of healing. The leader, then, is not opposed to healing; he favors it. But he cannot see the correctness of seeking (or performing) cures on the Sabbath; the proper understanding of the Sabbath precludes healing.
In all this, the leader does not deny, but affirms that Jesus is under a necessity to heal13. Granted that this is a peculiar way to think of the motivation of Jesus’ healings, but it is a correct way. Most of all, this understanding of the necessity that lays upon Jesus is far from a consideration of healing that centers on licitness14. It is necessary to work, i.e., it is necessary to heal; just do not heal on the Sabbath. The Sabbath precludes work (healing) and thus limits the necessity Jesus’ powers for good places upon him.
3. Jesus’ Argument15
Jesus’ response to the teaching of the synagogue leader is immediate and severely critical. He calls the synagogue leader and those who think as he does ‘hypocrites’16. They are this, in Jesus’ view, because they, in their