Summary: For eighteen long years this woman had struggled with her infirmity. What better day to heal her than the Sabbath?


Luke 13:10-17

In this remarkable little incident we find Jesus teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath (Luke 13:10). Perhaps one of the first things we notice is just how obedient the Lord was to the laws and customs of His time. Should not we also be about His Father’s business (cf. Luke 2:49) on the Lord’s day?

It is interesting to observe how God does sometimes allow Satan to inflict physical or mental illness (cf. Job 2:4-6). Everybody in the village would have known about the woman with a spirit of infirmity, and how long she had been bowed in that state, and how poor a prognosis had been given her (Luke 13:11). Whatever its cause, it was spiritual: even Dr. Luke was stuck to put a name to the symptoms.

It is perhaps significant, too, that no matter what, this woman had made her way to worship that day, and probably many other days. This puts to shame those who absent themselves from public worship with no other ailment than their lame excuses. It is our duty to be in the place where we are most likely to hear Jesus’ call.

As soon as Jesus saw her, he called her to himself (Luke 13:12). She does not appear to have solicited His attention, but was merely in her place at the right time. How could she have heard him, on this defining day of her life, if she had not been there?

“Woman,” said Jesus. Then in one word, “you-have-been-loosed” from your infirmity. Jesus then laid His hands on her: conveying to her lowered eyes what He was doing; and daring, as usual, to touch society’s untouchables (Luke 13:13). This was not the only time that Jesus vicariously rendered Himself ceremonially unclean for the cleansing of another (cf. Luke 7:14).

The effect was immediate: passively, she was made straight; and actively, she glorified God (Luke 13:13). When Jesus touches our lives, the effect is holistic: affecting body, mind, and spirit. Stand up and praise God!

So far so good: but in this good deed Jesus had upset the sensitivities – or perhaps the insensitiveness – of the synagogue leader (Luke 13:14). In a way, this man was also bent over: with the burden of legalism, and perhaps the sin of wanting to keep face when challenged with a new and better way. Sometimes ‘religion’ is a hindrance to ‘Christianity’!

The ruler of the synagogue was indignant: are there not six days in which to come for healing? The pettiness of the remark is evident to all. After all, do we really go to church on the Lord’s day expecting nothing to happen?

Jesus was also indignant. “Hypocrite!” answered the Lord (Luke 13:15). You “loose” your ox or your donkey from the stall on the Sabbath, and lead him to the water. And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham (in the truest sense, as a true believer) be “loosed” from this bond on the Sabbath day? (Luke 13:16).

Jesus also gave His diagnosis: she had been bound by Satan for eighteen years. Another day’s wait might not have hurt: but then Jesus would have moved on in His relentless journey to Jerusalem. We must seize our chances when grace comes knocking at the door of our lives.

As usual, Jesus brought division by His actions and His remarks. His adversaries were ashamed, but “all the people” rejoiced (Luke 13:17). Stand up and praise God!

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