Summary: The problem arose not because our Lord healed her, but because He healed her on the Sabbath day. The Lord healing people on the Sabbath day was a reoccurring source of contention between Himself and the religious rulers.
(16) Crippled Woman Healed on Sabbath
(Deut. 5:12-15) Luke 13:10-17
(Luke 13:10-14) And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.
This woman had one of the worst illnesses recorded in the Bible. She had a severe malady. The problem arose not because our Lord healed her, but because He healed her on the Sabbath day. The Lord healing people on the Sabbath day was a reoccurring source of contention between Himself and the religious rulers. The ruler of the synagogue was a hypocrite because he treated animals better than he treated people. Suppose the woman did come to the synagogue on another day. Could he have healed her? Of course not! I wonder how many needy people come to church meetings looking for love and help and go away disappointed.
This woman had a spirit of infirmity that had plagued her for eighteen years. It is difficult to translate into English the terminology that Dr. Luke uses to describe her condition. They are medical terms. Her illness was chronic and incurable. Because of it she was bowed down by Satan or, you could say “bent double.” This poor woman could not lift herself up. Here was a woman in a desperate condition. She was an unfortunate wretch who was an object of pity. This was probably one of the most terrible cases of physical infirmity that the Lord dealt with on earth.
Only Luke mentions this bent-over woman who had spent the previous eighteen years staring at the floor, unable to stand or sit, or even to straighten her crooked back. Jesus and His disciples had traveled through her city in Peraea on their way from Galilee to Judea. They entered the synagogue on the Sabbath to teach, because that was the Lord’s practice; to be in the Synagogue every Sabbath.
Notice that when Jesus saw her, he called her to him. It does not appear that she made any request to him for healing, or expected anything from him; but before she called he answered.
After Jesus’ tender touch, for the first time in eighteen years, this “daughter of Abraham” straightened her back, stretched to her full height, and, among the sons of Abraham, who perhaps now hung their heads in shame, she held her head high to the glory of God. Nothing honors the Savior any more than a heart of gratitude and a spirit of praise. Now, the scripture was fulfilled, for Psalms 146:8 says, “The Lord raiseth them that are bowed down.” Although man cannot make that straight which God has made crooked (Eccl. 7:13), yet the grace of God can make that straight which the sin of man has made crooked.
(Luke 13:15-16) The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?
I don’t know why this woman had been bound by Satan. She apparently was not an immoral person, as she was a regular attendant at the synagogue despite her condition. It was at the synagogue that the Great Physician said to her, “Be loosed.” He laid His hands on her and immediately she was made straight and glorified God. His touch upon her was not essential but was an aid to her faith. It was personal contact. And personal contact with Him is the important thing for us also.
The ruler of the synagogue rebuked her sharply—yet this woman had not come to the synagogue with any intention of being healed. The reaction of the religious ruler was strange indeed. He was more interested in the rule than he was in the fact that a poor woman, who had been shackled for eighteen years with an infirmity, had been freed. The Sabbath question was the most important issue to these religious rulers. Yet Sabbath prohibitions had become a burden too great to bear. The Sabbath question is still one of heated debate today. Jesus’ reply was that the Sabbath was not intended to prevent works of necessity or mercy. The application of this truth is as follows: some jobs today require Sunday employment, such as hospitals, law enforcement, and fire-fighting. Most other jobs, however, can often be performed on other days, even though Sunday of itself is not to be kept as the Jewish Sabbath. As a rule, Sunday is regarded as a day of worship, and we should not needlessly violate that principle, even though we realize there are exceptions. The important thing is to learn not to argue about religion, but to learn to live it.