How many times have we come across this scene so far? Jesus is walking, teaching, etc... Jesus comes to someone or someone comes to Jesus in severe need. Jesus miraculously meets their need. Religious leaders don't praise God. Instead they criticise the person healed and Jesus for doing this on the wrong day. And any reader with a heart is left to wonder if anyone can truly have that kind of reaction.
So, what is the Lord trying to teach me in this account?
If you want to really grasp what God is telling you through His Word; if you really want to know what the Spirit-inspired writers are trying to emphasize, the key is context, context, context.
The writer of this account of Jesus was Luke. Luke was a doctor who wrote two accounts to a Greek nobleman named or titled Theophilus. The first account was about Jesus' ministry. The second account was about the beginnings of the church in the Roman Empire.
Luke intended Theophilus to read these accounts from beginning to end, at least initially. This is how most books within the Bible should be read; from beginning to end. The original writers did not place chapter and verse markers within their text. These were added by scribes much later as an easy reference tool.
So, if we were to read Luke's account from beginning to end, we would come to this passage with the questions of "What fruit is God looking for from me?" and "How do I know I am producing fruit?" bouncing around in our head.
And it is here when a Spirit-inspired Luke decides to tell us about Jesus healing a crippled woman on the Sabbath.
Do we have any more of a contrast between a tree that produces fruit and trees not producing fruit?
They all see a woman who has been severely crippled for 18 years.
The response of the non-fruit trees? There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.
The response of The Fruit Tree? 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? 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?
There are so many people who think that worshipping God and bringing Him glory is about rituals and incantations. But these rituals and incantations are proven to be empty because they are fruitless. They certainly do not soften our hearts to our Father in Heaven nor do they soften our hearts to the world around us. In fact, it seems the better we are at ritual and incantations, the harder our hearts become to our Father in Heaven and the world He has created.
When we are convinced that rituals and incantations (very few, if any, given by Jesus, but made by man) are what makes us better people, then that is what we defend and follow. We see someone clearly doing good, but if it is contrary to our made up ritual/incantation/religion, we do not see it as good. We regard that good deed as heresy, instead.
Jesus clearly teaches that our Father wants us to be fruitful. He does not want us taking up valuable real estate on His world following empty rituals that He never wanted to do. Because, these turn us hard and fruitless. And, when we are hard and fruitless, we must either repent and allow the gardener to soften us and change us to fruit producers or we will be discarded.
The bad news is this is a fallen world from the one our Father created. Because of this, there are lots of needs. And, when our hearts are soft and our eyes are open, we see needs all the time.
The Good News is He still cares, He still works, and He chooses to produce the fruit our world desperately needs through us. As Jesus has taught us through deed and word, there is never a wrong time to love.