The Signs of the Times


April 23, 1896

The Glory of God Revealed in Mercy


“And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in nowise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her; and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.” The compassionate heart of Christ was touched at the sight of this suffering woman, and we should suppose that every human being who looked upon her would have rejoiced that she was loosed from her bondage, and healed of an affliction that had bowed her down for eighteen years. But Jesus perceived by the lowering, angry countenances of the priests and rabbis that they felt no joy at her deliverance. They were not ready to utter thankful words because one who had been suffering and deformed by disease was restored to health and symmetry. They felt no gratitude that her deformed body was made comely, and that the Holy Spirit made glad her heart till it overflowed with thankfulness, and she glorified God. The psalmist says, “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth Me.” But in the midst of the words of gratitude is heard a discordant note. “And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath day.” He was indignant that Christ had caused an unhappy woman to sound a note of joy upon the Sabbath. In a loud voice, harsh with passion, he said to the people, “There are six days in which men ought to work; in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” ST April 23, 1896, par. 1

If this man had really had conscientious scruples in regard to the true observance of the Sabbath, he would have discerned the nature and character of the work that Christ had performed. If he had cultivated truth and righteousness in his heart, he would have given an entirely different interpretation of the work which was performed on the Sabbath day, and which he said belonged to the six working days. The work that Christ had done was in harmony with the sanctification of the Sabbath day. The people on this side and that side wondered and were glad at the work that had been wrought for the suffering woman; and there were those whose hearts were touched, whose minds were enlightened, who would have acknowledged themselves the disciples of Christ, had it not been for the lowering, angry countenances of the rabbis. The people knew that if they expressed their admiration of Christ, it would cost them something. Many believed on him, but dared not confess their faith, fearing that they would be turned out of the synagogue. They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. ST April 23, 1896, par. 2

In the work of mercy which Christ had performed, his divine power shone forth, and testified that his resources were found in the only true and living God. Many were obtaining a correct knowledge of God, and by faith in Christ were getting a better acquaintance with the Way, the Truth, and the Life. To the angry rebuke of the ruler of the synagogue Jesus replied with dignity and authority. In distinct utterances the voice of Christ was heard saying: “Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” They had condemned Christ for relieving a suffering woman, who had been under affliction for eighteen years, when they themselves would not scruple in relieving the thirst of a beast on the Sabbath day. They would not leave their ox or their ass tied up in the stall when it was in need of water, but would lead it out where water might be obtained. He pointed out their inconsistency, saying, You feed your cattle on the Sabbath, and yet you are angry with the people who are solely distressed and suffering, who are under the oppressive power of Satan, because they come on the Sabbath day to be healed. You do a work of mercy for your beast, but pass judgment because I have broken Satan's power and set free a daughter of Abraham on the Sabbath. “And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed; and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.” ST April 23, 1896, par. 3

The rabbis had taught the people that all who were of Jewish extraction were holy and peculiarly favored of heaven. Why did they not lift up their voice in gratitude to God because this suffering daughter of Abraham was freed from her long bondage? The woman had not been possessed in spirit, but the Lord had suffered Satan to exercise his will in bringing disease upon her; for God was demonstrating the character of his kingdom before the whole universe of heaven. This opportunity must be given him to reveal the character of apostasy. The inhabitants of worlds unfallen could view in this case the attributes of Satan and the character of God. The law of God is a transcript of his character. The rebel leader was in opposition to the law of God, and revealed the fact that his principles were those that actuated one who is lawless, disobedient, unholy, an accuser, a liar, and a murderer. The true character of the ruler of the synagogue was laid bare, and it was made manifest that he was on the side of the great rebel, tho sanctimoniously professing to be very punctilious concerning the law of God. He knew not the principle of love that underlies the commandments, and preferred that the woman should suffer rather than that Jesus should work a miracle to heal her, and thus counteract his work of misrepresentation. Tho the rebuke of Jesus brought reproach upon his adversary, and tho the people rejoiced because of all the glorious things that were done, yet the ruler never forgave Christ for departing from the maxims, customs, and commandments of men, with which the rabbis had burdened the law of God and obscured its spiritual significance. ST April 23, 1896, par. 4