And there was a woman who for eighteen years had had an illness caused by a spirit (demon). She was bent double, and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are released from your illness.” Then He laid His hands on her; and immediately she stood erect again and she began glorifying and praising God.
The culture of Jesus’ day was a man’s world. Women, and especially sick women, were overlooked, if not ridiculed. In a synagogue on a Sabbath day, Jesus noticed a woman in need, and in a culturally incorrect move, He asked her to come to Him and then healed her.
The woman had been crippled for eighteen years. Had she prayed for deliverance? Certainly, but no answer came. Did she know the cause of the problem? Maybe- maybe not. Did she remain faithful to God during those many years of disappointment? Yes, she was still worshipping God that Sabbath. For all those years, her spine had been fused together. Her condition was probably painful, and certainly embarrassing, but she continued to pursue God.
Sometimes, God chooses a particular moment to step into our pain and change everything. He doesn’t do it often, but when He does, it’s amazing. On that particular day, Jesus summoned the woman. She had tried to be a invisible as possible for all those years, but now the visiting rabbi had singled her out. She obeyed and moved toward Him. He reached out His hand and touched her back. Immediately, the bones became loosened and she straightened up. She praised God!
Why does God choose to miraculously heal one person and not another? Why does He delay for decades in some cases but heal quickly in others? These are valid questions, but not ones we’ll get answers to in this life. All we need to know is that if we remain faithful, sooner or later, in this life or the next, a miracle will happen.
If you want to measure the success of a man, you do not measure it by a position he has achieved, but by the obstacles he has overcome.
Booker T. Washington
The Bible says that this woman had suffered this infirmity for 18 years. Can you imagine that at the beginning she probably had great hope and expectation that soon the pain and suffering would soon end. I have no doubt that year after year as she visited the temple, she hoped she would find favor with God. But I dare say that as the years progressed and the disease began to take its toll not only on her body but on her spirit as well, she probably just gave up and accepted that this was to be her lot in life. But Jesus happened by and noticed her and her condition. You will see in the story that she didn’t approach Jesus. I’m sure that she had probably heard about Jesus and His miraculous healing power, but no doubt didn’t think she qualified. So she was going her way when Jesus called her to him. When He laid His hands on her she was healed. The religious leaders took offense in that Jesus healed her on the Sabbath for to them that was work and they had no problem leaving the woman to suffer. After all they couldn’t do anything to help her any way. As they question Jesus, the words He spoke were powerful:
But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, began saying to the crowd in response, “There are six days in which work ought to be done; so come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” But the Lord replied to him, “You hypocrites (play-actors, pretenders)! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the stall and lead it away to water it? 16 And this woman, a daughter (descendant) of Abraham whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?”
Don’t you just love those words: “Ought not this daughter of Abraham whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years be released from this bond on the Sabbath?”
That’s our Jesus! When He sees us in pain and suffering, even when we have given up, He notices and chooses to intervene. The Bible says that He came to break the curse of sin over us and to release us from its bondage and captivity. I’m sure that Luke 4:18 is very familiar to us but I want to share it with you again.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me (the Messiah), Because He has anointed Me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent Me to announce release (pardon, forgiveness) to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed (downtrodden, bruised, crushed by tragedy),
When God sees us in distress He brings us good news. It was good news that day to the woman when she heard Jesus call out to her. She probably didn’t know at first what He was going to do but the very fact that He took notice of her must have been a lifting of her spirit. The good news is that God loves us- He really does.
When God sees us in prison- whether of our own doing or because life happens, He comes and provides a pardon that opens the prison doors of sin, addictions, and all the other things that ensnare us.
When we can’t see our way clear, when life’s direction is murky, when we are groping in the dark trying to make sense of life, God comes and opens our eyes, our hearts, and our minds to new possibilities and clear paths.
When we feel as though life has battered and bruised us, especially when it has broken and crushed our spirits, God comes and gently straightens the bruised reed and breathes gently on that tiny spark of hope and frees us from the distress, brokenness, sorrow and discouragement. He opens our hearts and pours in His healing and peace and joy until we can breathe again.
What an incredible day that little woman’s turned out to be. She probably began her annual journey as an act of faithfulness. She may well thought that it would be like all the other eighteen. She just didn’t take into account that Christ, the Son of God was going to show up in her life but when He did, oh my what a different outcome.
When you got up this morning, you may have thought that it was going to be the same kind of day that all the rest have been, but just maybe this is the day that God intends to show up and by the end of the day you may well experience such a transformation as that little woman did. No matter how long it’s been going on, no matter how hopeless it may seem, no matter what everyone else has said, if somehow you can find yourself in the presence of God, anything and everything can be changed. You may have settled for being stooped over but God has greater things for that daughter or son of the Most High God.
Dr. John Thompson