We are continuing in our daily devotional on the supernatural acts of Jesus while He walked among us. The gospel writer, Luke, shares with us the case of a lady who in our day would probably be diagnosed by physicians as Marie-Strümpell Disease, a fusion of the spinal bones. There are no medicines known today that can cure this physical condition. The disease had a spiritual cause rather than a medical one in this particular case.
10On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity." 13Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. 14Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, "There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath." 15The Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Doesn't each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16Then 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?" (Luke 13:10-16).
Early in the course of the disease, sufferers often find that the pain is relieved when they lean forward, with the result being that their spine gradually begins to fuse until a patient might be bent almost double. The bones become calcified, and they are not able to straighten. This lady lived with this condition for 18 years.
It was a Sabbath day, and the religious leaders considered healing on the Sabbath work disallowed by their petty rules. With all the leaders watching, what would Jesus do? The woman sat there and silently trusted. Jesus knew the storm of controversy that would erupt if He healed the woman on the Sabbath day, but He cared more for people than all the little rules the religious leaders had put in place. Those who were out for His blood never intimidated Him! This passage is interesting because Jesus didn’t heal her; He set her free from a demon causing the condition (v. 12). When He cast out the spirit, the woman was immediately released from her crippling condition. The demon had not only created this crippling disease 18 years previously but was keeping her tied up spiritually. When Jesus put His hands on her (v. 13), she immediately straightened up and began praising God.
At the sound of the woman’s praise, the synagogue ruler angrily told off the woman, accusing her of coming to be healed on the Sabbath. What a cold stone of a man! It does not seem right that he is in charge of a congregation of God’s people. Doesn’t it make you wonder how a man with no heart and compassion can lead the flock of God? He was indignant, what a strong word Scripture uses about him. Instead of joy at this woman’s deliverance and healing, he was angry and upset.
The synagogue leader did not scold the Lord for healing her, but took it out on the people in his congregation! This woman had patiently sat in her seat; it was Jesus who called her forward. It strikes me how the Lord was so quick to defend this daughter of Abraham, a child of God, from the attacks of the evil one. The enemy sometimes uses religious people to pour water on the praise of God. One would expect that a synagogue leader would be a lover of people, but this man showed no compassion whatsoever. His words betrayed his heart. Something beautiful and God-honoring happened in his synagogue, and he was angry about it. On the other side, though, we see how kind the Lord is. He encouraged the woman by calling her a daughter of Abraham, even though she was just released from a demon disabling her for 18 years. Jesus spoke words of love and affirmation to her. Can you imagine how kind and reassuring that must have felt?
The Lord reminded the synagogue leader that animals were treated better than the Lord's people under the oppressive rules of the Jewish leadership. Doesn't any man allow his animals to drink on a Sabbath morning? One can hear the care in His voice for this poor woman that has been under the cruel bondage of Satan for 18 years. He would not allow it to go on another day. How about you? Isn't it time you were released from whatever has bound you? Call upon the Lord with all your heart, and He will hear you (Acts 2:21). Keith Thomas