Opening Thoughts: The other day I was in the bank and saw an elderly man who was all hunched over. His back was so bad that he was literally looking at his feet, and when this gentleman arrived at the counter it was all he could do just to raise his head enough to catch a glimpse of the teller. It looked so painful and uncomfortable, yet no matter how much he wanted to stand up straight, it was an impossibility. In Luke 13:10-17 Jesus addresses a woman in the temple who was in the same boat as the man I just described to you, only this woman was about to be changed for the Glory of God. Let’s take a look.
Luke 13:10-17 ESV .. Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.
Jesus The Teacher: Let’s take a moment to observe the very first words in this text, “Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath…” I think when we read the gospels it’s overlooked that Jesus was highly regarded as a man of great wisdom, even the temple leader and Pharisees knew and could not deny it. There was no doubt in their minds that He was special, they saw Him perform miracles and teach lessons and He was regularly given a teaching platform in the temple and synagogues. He was no newbie behind the pulpit. In fact John 18:20 tells us that He taught in the temple often.
John 18:20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret.
Given the fact that Jesus was regularly teaching, and this woman was a local (it would have been impossible for her to travel distance), Jesus would have likely seen her before. I do realize there is nothing in the Bible that says this, but given the fact that He was often teaching, and we observe that she made a serious effort to keep the Sabbath Holy (which would include regular trips to the synagogue), it’s likely this wasn’t the first time he noticed her. It is the first time he called on her though, it was the appointed time.
Purpose in the Healing: The affliction, in this case brought on from an evil spirit, was authorized by God in order to demonstrate the power of Christ and once again bring authority to His teaching. You remember when Jesus was asked by His disciples about a certain man who was blind what sin he had committed to deserve that type of sickness? Jesus’ response to them was that the man had been born blind in order that the glory of God would be manifest by his healing. Like the miracle of the blind eyes being opened this miracle served as a tool to bring authority to Christ’s teaching and elevate Him above every other prophet or teacher.
Fulfilling Scripture: Not only did this mercy miracle bring about relief to this woman and set Jesus apart from the other leaders, it also served to fulfill prophecy. Every miracle Jesus did was a double edged sword. It was never simply just for the comfort of the benefactor, but meant to reinforce His authority, to bring glory to the name of God and to act as a parallel to what He was about to do in the spiritual realm regarding salvation.
Let’s take for instance the well known story of Jesus healing the man who was born blind. You know, when Jesus did the unthinkable and spit in the dirt, made mud and rubbed it in his eyes. How Jesus works is simply astonishing. First of all it’s impossible to make someone see who has been born blind, but then doing so by putting mud in their eye sockets… now that’s just absurd!
I remember when I was a kid we used to go to this mud pit during summer camp. It was the best place for a 12 year old boy to be, you could literally wiggle yourself down chest deep in mud then spend the next 20 minutes getting yourself out as the other guys would fling mud at you. I remember several times miscalculating my dodge and having mud chucked at my face and some of it even hitting me in the eyes. I can tell you from experience that when mud hits you in the eyes you don’t jump up and down and say “I can see, I can see!”, but rather there is usually a whole lot of screaming and yelling, “Time Out, Time Out!”.
Mud is the last thing you want to put in your eyes if you value them, but Jesus always does the impossible! He takes situations and makes them even more impossible so that He will be sure to be glorified. Have you ever wondered why Jesus raised the level of the law? He did it mostly to reveal just how guilty we were and to make salvation an absolute impossibility apart from a work of His grace. He revealed the true meaning of adultery so that all men, (even your sweet little old grandpa), would be guilty. To look with lust at someone who is not your wife is equivalent to sleeping with her. Many guys who are hooked on porn think they’re OK because they only sleep with their wives at night. That’s not what Jesus says. In fact, we treat so much of this stuff like a disease that needs therapy yet Jesus just calls it sin. So what did He do then with the sin of Murder? He declared that even if you have ever hated anyone you are guilty of the act of Murder itself. He literally rung the neck of self righteousness. He stripped it of its glory and made salvation unattainable on our own. Any attempt we make to please God is like throwing mud in our eyes. If Jesus didn’t make the mud it’s not going to work, in fact, it actually makes us even more blind. For He is the only one who ever pleased God and apart from His righteousness we are Hell bound wretches, deserving of God’s holy wrath. Thanks be to God! He has provided an impossible way for us to be saved and it has been made possible through Jesus Christ.
When the man who was born blind went to the temple to testify of his healing the rulers were enraged and showed him the door. When Jesus heard that he had been kicked out of the temple he found him standing within an earshot of the Pharisees and explained the reason for the miracle and the parallel it had in the spiritual realm. He said, “For judgement I came, so that the blind may see, and so the seeing might become blind.” The miracle played a prominent part in the explanation of why Jesus came, which is that He came to open the eyes of those who know they are spiritually blind, those who are aware that it is impossible to make themselves see, so they make no attempt to on their own, instead they do what only a blind beggar can do… cry out to Him for help, call on Him while He is near. Equally He came to put out the eyes of the spiritually self righteous, those who believe that the efforts they have made account to right standing with God. They claim to see yet they fail to understand that they are really blind, but because they continue to profess to see, rather than that plead with the Savior, they remain in their guilt. And as Hebrews 10 says, there is no other sacrifice that can be made for them.
Labored Under Suffering: Jesus fulfilled Scripture with this healing, yet the leader of the synagogue was so blind that he scolded both Jesus and the people. Telling them that there were six other days in which they could come and get their healing, almost reducing Jesus down to some circus performing act, and treating these amazing miracles as something common and normal. Jesus instantly rebuked this leader and went on to call all the leaders hypocrites for treating their animals who serve them in higher regard than the people who serve the Lord. It was lawful for the Jews to untie their donkey’s and take them for water on the Sabbath. The animal served and labored for them. This was their kind treatment towards their donkey and it was not considered an act of labor on the Sabbath.
Jesus was relating this woman to the animals of the Pharisees. It was their privilege to bring these faithful servants to water to drink and it was His privilege to reveal the Living Water to all, who in faith, serve Him. This woman demonstrated amazing faith in the sense that she, in her pain, made the trek to the synagogue out of obedience. Through this healing Jesus fulfilled prophesy, (Psalm 146:8 ESV) “the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous….” Jesus did not break any laws whatsoever. His purpose in her healing was to bring authority to His teaching and reveal to those who had been given the eyes to see who He really was. His adversaries were shamed by His response, sadly it was not godly sorrow that worked repentance, but sorrow of the world that leads to death.
Bent Toward Sin: Every one of us, left to ourselves, are bent toward sin and running a Hell bound race. Many people, even within the church, are still in darkness (see Matthew 7:21-23), still looking at their sin daily, straining on their own effort to straighten their bent backs of sin and see where they are going. Maybe you have even tried to put mud in your own eyes, you’ve tried harder, cut out more things, joined more groups for accountability but in the end you still can’t kill your sin, your bent back always returns to its old position. I’m here to say that there is hope! Genuine salvation happens at the most unexpected times. All the efforts we make account for nothing, but Jesus sees you coming through the door with your back bowed down and He may be calling you today. If you cannot hear Him calling you, be like the blind beggar and start screaming, scream and call, yell! Do whatever it takes to get His attention. I promise you He will not pass you by. Salvation is Near. Today is the day for you to run from your sin, run from your self righteous efforts, and just keep running straight to the cross where all you do is LOOK and LIVE. Place all your hope and trust in Jesus today. He’s the only one who can save you from what you deserve. Grace & Peace.
Grace & Peace
~ Shane Martin