3-Week Series: Double Blessing


Summary: LORD OF ALL, LOVE TO ALL (LUKE 13:10-17)


In early 2018 the pain in my hand got to the point where I could not cut or peel an orange, so a neighbor recommended me to see his pain doctor who happened to be a lady. She did not think she had the physical strength to rub the muscle joints, so she had another person, a Chinese chiropractor, to treat me. The treatment was expensive – HK$600 (US$76) for an hour’s work.

Unfortunately, after seven months of treatment I had a minor stroke and my right leg was numb. I could not feel my leg nor figure out I was wearing a slipper or not on my right leg going to bed. Once I even went to work without realizing I was wearing a different shoe on each foot! The chiropractor decided to switch strategy and worked on my feet instead of my hand but advised me to see him twice a week instead of once and for half an hour longer each time for the next crucial three months, so the cost tripled in the week.

The chiropractor, however, spent less time on my feet than on my spine initially because he felt that my body was hunched and I was slouching or slumping badly. Eventually after three months of deep tissue massage I had a better body posture standing and walking straight. The numb leg was still a work in progress three months later but at least blood circulation improved and some feelings returned!

The woman in the story best illustrated the uncaring, unfeeling and unforgiving nature of legalism. In Jesus’ day the observance of the Sabbath was unequivocal, unquestioned, and unsparing. there were no such things as exception, exemption or emergency, be it for the sick and dying. To break the Sabbath makes one a rebel or a reject, a transgressor or a troublemaker. The debate lasted two chapters, to the next chapter (Luke 14:1).

What is the problem when we observe the law without a relationship with the Lawgiver? Why is the law given to us as a testament rather than a test of God’s love? How can we greet people with physical weaknesses respectfully rather than rudely in our conduct and conversation?

We are His Creation - Recognize His Primary Authority

10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

A poor man had his meager lunch stolen by one of his fellow workers. Hungry after the lunch hour, he sang and praised the Lord, and the workers made fun of him. They said, “My goodness, your very lunch has been stolen from you and you’re praising God. What for? You’re stupid!” “Oh, no,” he said, “I’m not stupid. They may have stolen my lunch, but they couldn’t steal my appetite from me.” (from Illustrations of Bible Truths # 586)

As usual Jesus taught and preached in the synagogues of Galilee. On a busy Sabbath day Jesus had time for an unyielding and unflinching woman after his discourse in the synagogue. The woman who came to the synagogue in faith had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could not lift up herself (v 11, KJV). Eighteen years is forever, but the focus was on the woman “bent over” and “could not straighten up at all.” Bent over (sug-kupto) is a rare word that occurs only this time in the Bible; “kupto” means stoop. it is more like bent together or being stuck. It is translated as bent double (NASU), bowed together (KJV) and disabled (Holman). This is active voice while “could not (be) straighten up” (ana-kupto) is passive voice, translated as lift up (Luke 13:11) or look up (Luke 21:28). It was not that nobody tried, but it was beyond her. The laws of nature and physics worked against her to her disadvantage and disability.

The sabbath was the best day in the week to show the woman’s praise, perseverance and patience. The word "Shabbat" comes from the root Shin-Bet-Tav, meaning to cease, to end, or to rest. The Sabbath is the most important ritual observance in Judaism and is the only ritual observance instituted in the Ten Commandments. It is also the most important special day, even more so than Yom Kippur. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/what-is-shabbat-jewish-sabbath

The verb “call her forward” (pros-phoneo) was used for or by Jesus only one other time in the Bible when he called the disciples to him and chose twelve apostles (Luke 6:13). It is not the regular word for “call” (kaleo) but “sounded forward” the woman. One version has “called out” (Holman). It was used for children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows (Matt 11:16), and for Pilate (Luke 23:20) and Paul (Acts 21:40, 22:2) addressing the crowd. Jesus was loud, lucid and loving; personal, peaceful and polite.

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