Luke 13:10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11 And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” 13 When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 14 But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” 15 But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? 16 And 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?” 17 When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
Jesus was committed to attending the synagogue on the Sabbath. He was there on a regular basis, teaching from the Scriptures. In this place a woman appeared who has been crippled for eighteen years. She was bent over and bowed down toward the ground. It’s quite possible that she was paralyzed, or was born with a spinal deformity. Whatever the cause, the disease was destructive to her entire life.
One would think that she came hopeful to the synagogue. We aren’t told, but I’m assuming she had to have help to get there. It wouldn’t have been easy for her to get to Jesus, and yet, somehow her situation was organized so that she could come face to face with the Messiah.
Jesus had compassion on the woman and he responded in holy love. He reached out to the woman and set her free. Can you imagine the shock of the religious leaders as this woman is able to stand upright and praise God? This is an incredible miracle and yet, the response of the religious leaders is one of anger. There is no excitement at seeing something they may have never encountered in their whole lives, but instead the leaders are picky and complain that Jesus could have done it on another day. Jesus calls them out as hypocrites, for even they have compassion on their donkeys and will give them water on the Sabbath.
The story opens with a woman who is bent over and bowed down to the ground. It ends with the religious leaders who fail to recognize that they are bowed down to the earth, their own pride constricting them from healing. They are bent over, and will remain crippled for they refuse to see Jesus for who he really is.
Cyril of Alexandria reminds us, “The whole human race, like this woman, was bent over and bowed down to the ground.” (Commentary on Luke, Homily 96) When Jesus heals this woman he is revealing his power to heal all of humanity. Christ, in the assumption of human flesh, brings about the healing of humanity which has been corrupted by sin. From the moment of his conception in the womb of his mother Mary, he is healing and sanctifying humanity. This woman symbolizes all of us, bent over and bowing down to the ground. We are overcome by sin and the weight of the world bends us over. We become weighed down by our burdens and there is no hope in the dust of the earth.
Somehow this woman had heard that a man named Jesus just might heal her. There is hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the good news which has been spread but just like this woman, we must respond. Just a hint of good news and somehow people must have been organized to bring her before Jesus. She would have known that it was the wrong day of the week, but she didn’t care. There was hope and nothing would deter her from reaching out to the one who just might be able to take away her burden. She is driven to seek out the Savior and she becomes a model for our response.
When we hear that there is hope for the condition in which we find ourselves, we should do everything that we can to receive that grace. Get yourself to church! Get into the word! Spend time in prayer! Put some effort into receiving what Jesus has to offer us.
Jesus heals this woman and no longer is she bowed down, but standing upright and seeing the world with a new perspective she is able to glorify God. When we remain in our bent over position we will see nothing but our problems. It is only in presenting ourselves before Jesus that our gaze can be lifted from our problems to the glory of God of the Father. We may be feeling bent down but there is healing for the crippling position in which we find ourselves. That healing can come about when we are willing to submit ourselves to Jesus to allow his healing touch to transform us and lift us above our circumstances. There is no reason to live bent down and focused on the troubles of this world. and Jesus never rests from good works.
Lord, thank you for a beautiful promise of healing from the distractions of the day. Amen.