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Unnamed Women, The Crippled Woman, Part 2 - Daily Treasure - March 30

  • 2022 Mar 30

Unnamed Women, The Crippled Woman, Part 2

Sharon W. Betters

TODAY’S TREASURE

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 (Luke 13:14-17).

The crippled woman slips onto the pages of Scripture and we never hear about her again. Yet, was she one of those women who watched as Jesus died? And why not? Her encounter with Jesus transformed her from a crippled, bent-over woman, incapable of standing tall into a woman freed from a disabling spirit. It isn’t hard to believe her joy lead her to come alongside Jesus and His followers and help care for their needs.

What was her place in society before healing? Probably the shadows, the fringes of life. The word for bowed or bent low is often used in the New Testament to describe people on the lower steps of society, the lowest of the low, unworthy of attention. Her physical condition paralleled her emotional condition – bowed, unnoticed, ignored, an outsider.

This story takes place around the third year of Jesus’ ministry. Once more, we find Jesus teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath. I imagine the Old Testament came alive as God’s Son reminded listeners of the Old Testament stories where God’s justice and mercy flowed. 

The crowd undoubtedly knew this crippled woman. I love how they witnessed Jesus calling her to come close and then hearing him exclaim: “Woman, you are healed from your infirmities.” What an explosion of wonder when Jesus then placed His hands on her and she stood up straight for the first time in eighteen years! 

Imagine their gasp and then the joy. This was not a hoax! And what is the first thing she does? She worships! This unnamed woman knows God healed her and she raises radical worship to her Lord. 

While many people loved Him, the religious community despised Jesus and looked for opportunities to sway public opinion against Him. Jesus seems oblivious to the attacks of the Pharisees, often calling out their sinful behavior. This Sabbath was no different. 

Surely, this healing would open the eyes of the Scribes and Pharisees to Jesus’ authenticity. But remember, this is the third year of His ministry – the healings He performed previously only set the concrete of their animosity toward Him. Instead of worshiping with this healed woman the ruler of the synagogue throws cold water on the celebration. You would think a religious leader would look at a bent woman like her with compassion. Instead of compassion, he focused on rules, rules that religious leaders created and were too much of a burden for God’s people to bear:

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” (John 13:14).

Let his words sink in. “If you need healing, don’t expect it on the Sabbath. Come back during the week because it’s against the rules to heal on Sunday.” 

I love Jesus’ response: 

The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? (Luke 13:15).

But His next words give even more dignity to the healed woman:

Then 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 13:16).

With a few words, Jesus delivers a powerful punch. He declares she is a “daughter of Abraham”, one of God’s chosen people, and therefore significant, far more valuable than a donkey or ox. She is their sister, as precious to God as any other one of His children. She suffered for eighteen years, why would they not want to relieve her pain as soon as possible? Why are they not grateful she does not have the burden of her disease for one more day? He puts responsibility for her sickness on Satan, not anything she has done, who kept her “bound for eighteen long years”. His words remind them of what they already knew in their heads but apparently not in their hearts – God expects His people to view hurting people as significant and with compassion that moves them to offer help. He rebukes them for not treating her with respect and honor. The religious leaders demonstrated none of that.

LIFE-GIVING ENCOURAGEMENT

Jesus’ rebuke opened the door for these leaders to repent. This is one of those moments where humiliation covered Jesus’ enemies but it was not humility that led to repentance. They did not accept Jesus’ discipline as helpful, the way the writer of Hebrews encourages us to do:

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:7-11).

Compare their response to the congregation: 

…but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing (Luke 13:17b).

In this story we see Mary’s prophesy in Luke 2:46-55 fulfilled: the humble one is exalted and the prideful is scattered. But what does this woman’s response to healing teach us? How many of us are bent over, enslaved by a disabling spirit? Are we living life with our heads bowed down, convinced we are “less than”. Maybe grief crushes your spirit every day, and your body language reveals deep depression, despair, and hopelessness. What about sin? Have you, like these religious leaders, refused Jesus’ invitation to experience forgiveness and freedom from the past?

Perhaps you have lived with this disabling spirit for so long, you gave up hope for healing, resigned to live life keeping your eyes on the path below your feet, with no hope of one day looking up, freed from your chains. The crippled woman suffered years of pain and probably mistreatment from those who made fun of her. Year after year her disposition and emotional strength weakened. Then Jesus calls her “Woman” the same way He addressed His mother when He was on the Cross. He touches her tenderly and calls her a daughter of Abraham. Imagine the emotional impact of His actions and words, let alone the physical healing. I think of the most agonizing moments of my life when I have felt the touch of Jesus and the power of His Word and that He calls me by name. My tears fall, knowing He loves me so. 

Jesus sees you and calls you to come closer. He is ready to touch you with His supernatural power to first redeem you and then enable you to walk by faith, freed from the chains of sin.

Every time I read this passage I remember the song written by the Gaithers. Our daughter Heidi was about three years old and I can still hear her little voice, singing along with Chuck and me as we drove from Philadelphia to visit our families in Delaware. While this crippled woman probably worshiped with words from the Psalms, this song could be her testimony as well:

He Touched Me Bill and Gloria Gaither Shackled by a heavy burden 'Neath a load of guilt and shame Then the hand of Jesus touched me And now I am no longer the same
 
He touched me, oh He touched me And oh the joy that floods my soul! Something happened and now I know He touched me and made me whole
 
Since I met this blessed Savior Since He's cleansed and made me whole Oh I will never cease to praise Him I'll shout it while eternity rolls

PRAYER

For those shackled by a heavy burden, I pray that you hear Jesus’ invitation to come close and surrender to His love and compassion.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Sharon W. Betters is a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, pastor’s wife, and cofounder of MARKINC Ministries, where she is the Director of Resource Development. Sharon is the author of several books, including Treasures of EncouragementTreasures in Darkness, and co-author with Susan Hunt of Aging with Grace. She is the co-host of the Help & Hope podcast and writes Daily Treasure, an online devotional.

For more from Daily Treasure please visit MARKINC.ORG.



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