Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 32: Matthew, Mark and Luke, Part II, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
10. And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11. And, lo, a woman who had a spirit of infirmity during eighteen years, and was bent down, and was altogether unable to lift up her head. 279 12. Whom when Jesus saw, he called her to him, and said to her, Woman, thou art delivered from thine infirmity. 13. And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she stood upright, and glorified God. 14. And the ruler of the synagogue answering, being offended because Christ had performed a cure on the Sabbath, said to the multitude, There are six days on which we ought to work: on them therefore come, and you shall be cured, and not on the Sabbath-day. 15. And the Lord answering said to her, Doth not each of you, on the Sabbath, loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? 16. And must not this daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath-day? 17. And while he was saying these things, all his adversaries were ashamed, and all the people rejoiced on account of all the glorious actions which were done by him.
I have resolved to place in immediate connection some events which are detailed by Luke alone, without a direct reference to dates; for on that point, as we have formerly mentioned, the Evangelists did not care much about exactness. We shall afterwards find a more suitable time for returning to the Harmony of the Three Evangelists.
11. And, lo, a woman Here is related a miracle performed on a woman who was cured, and the offense which the malignity of the Jews led them to take up, because our Lord had cured her on a Sabbath-day Luke says that the woman was held by a spirit of infirmity, so that her body was bent by the contraction of her nerves. As the nature of the disease is no farther described, it is probable that it was not one of an ordinary kind, or which was understood by physicians; and, therefore, he calls it a spirit of infirmity. We know that diseases of an unusual and extraordinary kind are, for the most part, inflicted on men through the agency of the devil; and this gave the more striking display of the divine power of Christ, which triumphed over Satan. Not that Satan rules over men according to his pleasure, but only so far as God grants to him permission to injure them. Besides, as the Lord, from whom alone all our blessings flow, makes his glory to shine with peculiar brightness in those blessings which are more remarkable, and of rare occurrence; so, on the other hand, it is his will that the power and tyranny of Satan should be chiefly regarded in extraordinary chastisements, though his agency is likewise employed in those more gentle applications of the rod, which we experience from day to day.
12. Woman, thou art delivered In this miracle, as well as in others, Christ exhibited a proof both of his power and of his grace; for in this manner he testified that he had come for the purpose of granting relief to the wretched. His power is expressed in these words, Woman, thou art delivered; for he authoritatively declares that deliverance was at his own disposal, and employs, at the same time, the outward sign, the use of which we have explained on a former occasion.
13. And glorified God. As to the people glorifying God, it is mentioned in order to inform us, that this was distinctly perceived to be a heavenly blessing. It was not some doubtful work which allowed room for argument on either side, but one which afforded ample and undoubted grounds for praising God. This discovers more strongly the malignity of the ruler of the synagogue
14. There are six days. This reprover does not venture to pass censure openly on Christ, but points the venom of his dislike to another quarter, and indirectly condemns Christ in the person of the multitude. What an astonishing display of furious malice! Six days, he tells them, were set apart for labor; but how incorrectly and foolishly does he define that work, which is not permitted but on six days! Why does he not likewise forbid them to enter the synagogue, lest they should violate the Sabbath? Why does he not order them to refrain from all the exercises of godliness? But granting that men are restrained from following their own employments on the Sabbath-day, how unreasonable is it that the grace of God should be limited in that manner!
On them, therefore, come and you shall be cured. He bids them come on the other days to seek a cure, as if the power of God lay asleep on Sabbath, and were not rather exerted chiefly on that day for the salvation of his people. What purpose is to be served by the holy assemblies, except to give an opportunity to believers for entreating the Divine assistance? That ungodly hypocrite talks as if the lawful observation of the Sabbath interrupted the course of God’s favors, hindered men from calling upon him, and took away from them all feeling of his kindness.
15. Doth not every one of you? etc Such a combination of malice and stupidity might easily have been exposed in many ways, but Christ satisfied himself with this single argument. If it be lawful on the Sabbath, to perform the offices of humanity to cattle, it is ridiculous to imagine that the due observance of it will prevent assistance from being granted to the children of God. The words of Christ present a twofold comparison: that of the cattle with the daughter of Abraham, and that of the halter by which the ass or the ox is tied to its stall with the chains of Satan, by which he holds men bound to their destruction. “You,” says he, “who are so scrupulous about observing the Sabbath, venture to loose oxen and asses, and lead them away to watering. And why may not I be permitted to perform a similar office of kindness to the elect people of God; especially when the necessity is more urgent, when some one is to be delivered from the snares of Satan?”
Now though the wicked reprover was struck dumb with shame, yet we perceive that Christ never performed any work, however illustrious, which wicked men did not seize as an occasion for slander. Nor need we wonder that Satan labored, with incessant zeal and exertions, to subvert the glory of Christ; for he is constantly employed in spreading his clouds, in order to darken the holy actions of believers.
“Laquelle estoit courbe, et ne pouvoit aucunement se dresser;”— “who was bent down, and was quite unable to stand upright.”