STAND UP STRAIGHT! «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 no wise 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… 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?» Luke 13:10-17
As we read this account we see the synagogue location is not mentioned. The name of the woman healed is not given and what Jesus taught that day is left to the imagination. We do know it was Jesus custom to teach in the synagogues on the Sabbath day. It was necessary to have at least 10 men to establish a synagogue, elders appointed a ruler for each one. This day would feature something different!
She’s bent, stooped, bowed. Think about it, after eighteen years, she could hardly remember any other way of seeing the world. On this particular Sabbath, there was a special excitement at the synagogue. This unnamed woman was likely a regular in this particular congregation where she went to worship.
I’m pretty sure that the news was out this day that a Galilean preacher and prophet, Jesus of Nazareth, had arrived in town and would be teaching there. No doubt, she and the others in town had heard reports about Jesus–how he talked about God’s reign arriving soon and how he healed sick people. Likely she knew scripture and the promises of the coming Messiah, but was not sure how many of the stories to believe. I’m thinking she was also trying not to get her hopes up. The level of disappointment is directly related to the Ievel of expectation, feel certain she has experienced many disappointments. Then, of course, perhaps she didn’t even go expecting to be healed but to genuinely worship.
I recall ministering at a Church in Maine and during the altar call one of the ladies came for prayer. She had some hearing infirmity and was wearing hearing aids. As I began to pray for her healing she interrupted my prayer with «no, I’m ok with the hearing…I came for something else.» I said, «well, it’s not ok, but I will pray for your other request as well.»
I’m sure this «daughter of Abraham» had sought healing from others for 18 years and it had not come. I feel certain she herself prayed for healing, maybe she had somewhat accepted her situation. She may have been coming to the same synagogue for many years, yet remained in her crippling pain.
This day would be different. When she entered the synagogue, the place was abuzz, like never before there was a «presence», a Holy atmosphere she had never known in the synagogue. As Jesus began to teach the room was hushed. Moments later, however, His words turned from teaching to invitation. He had caught her eye… «Come here,» he said to her. She slowly made her way to the front of the assembly. I can almost see her hunched over and humbly approaching Him.
What happened next amazed the whole congregation. «Woman, you are set free from your ailment.» Thou art loosed! When this visiting preacher spoke those words and put his hands on her broken, bent body, something happened. She felt something she had never felt before. A supernatural touch from her Creator. I’m thinking you could probably hear the «popping and cracking» as her spine straightened. Without hesitation, she straightened her once crooked back. She stood tall and praised her God . . .
But wait, what compassion is taking place!. I can almost hear to the tone of Jesus voice when He spoke to her and invited her forward. I can see the look of love in His eyes.
You may know this and you may not, but I have been in Churches where they found it offensive to pray for healing and deliverance.
There is a very important truth also being taught here. Casting out demons, destroying the works of the devil is for God’s People, it is for believers! It is Children’s Bread. «ought not this daughter of Abraham…» We hear the compassionate tone in Jesus’ defense for healing on the Sabbath when he argues from lesser to greater: if compassion is shown to one’s animals on the Sabbath by providing them water, «ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?»
Mercy and grace always trump the bondage of law. Jesus also referred to Zacchaeus as «a son of Abraham». We are, by faith, children of Abraham. This indicates, by Jesus giving her the name «daughter of Abraham», her rights as a believer in the covenant community.
Look at the confirmation of truth in Galatians 3:29 «And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (4:7) Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.»
In a couple of weeks I will be receiving a Doctoral degree from the Phoenix University of Theology. The graduation ceremony will be at The Embassy Suites in Tempe and you are invited. We will also be having a Night of Ministry (below) on Wednesday the 25th prior to graduation on Thursday.
I will also be in Nancy, KY on October 8-9. Look forward to seeing our Kentucky friends. Nancy is near Somerset and the Cumberland River. I am very grateful for your prayers and support…and need them more than ever.
Just for Jesus,