Summary: Jesus performs a beautiful miracle at church one day. We see it from the persepective of the Crippled woman, Christ, Critics, and the crowd.
Love Bent Double
A while back, a friend e-mailed me a story about a seven-year-old boy whose mother asked him what he learned in Sunday school. He said, “Well, Mom, today we learned about the time when Moses was leading the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt and across the Red Sea. They got there at the Red Sea,” he says, “and Moses realized the Israelites couldn’t make their way over. So he asked the Israeli Marine Corp if they would erect a pontoon bridge over the Red Sea, and all the people of Israel walked over that pontoon bridge. But when the Egyptians got there, they had their tanks and their guns and all their heavy artillery, and they got stuck in the mud. So Moses radioed the Israeli Air Force to come over, and they bombed them and wiped out all the Egyptians.”
Well, the mother was shocked. She said, “Is that really what they taught you in Sunday school this morning?”
The boy said, “Well, not exactly. But if I told you what our teacher told us, you’d never believe it.”
Philosophers, historians and theologians have long debated the possibility and probability of miracles—like the parting of the Red Sea. But according to a study conducted by the University of Princeton, 82% of Americans still believe that miracles are performed by the power of God, even today.#
Despite the doubts of skeptics, Jesus actually performed countless miracles during his lifetime. The actual number of miracles he performed is innumerable because the Bible often speaks in general terms. For example, the Bible says, “Jesus performed many other miracles that his disciples saw. Those miracles are not written in this book” (John 20:30 GWT). There are, in fact, only about thirty-five specific miracles of Jesus described in the Bible. Of those thirty-five, most were miracles of healing.
In Luke 13, we read about one of the most beautiful miracles that Jesus ever performed. It happened on a Sabbath day (Saturday) when Jesus was teaching in a local synagogue. Here’s the what the Bible says:
Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath day.
A woman was there who, for eighteen years, had an evil spirit in her that made her crippled. Her back was always bent; she could not stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are free from your sickness.” Jesus put his hands on her, and immediately she was able to stand up straight and began praising God.
The synagogue leader was angry because Jesus healed on the Sabbath day. He said to the people, “There are six days when one has to work. So come to be healed on one of those days, and not on the Sabbath day.”
The Lord answered, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you untie your work animals and lead them to drink water every day—even on the Sabbath day? This woman that I healed, a daughter of Abraham, has been held by Satan for eighteen years. Surely it is not wrong for her to be freed from her sickness on a Sabbath day!” When Jesus said this, all of those who were criticizing him were ashamed, but the entire crowd rejoiced at all the wonderful things Jesus was doing. (Luke 13:10-17)
One of the reasons that this is such a wonderful story is that God allows us to see this miracle from several different perspectives. We see it from the vantage point of the one it was done for, the One who did it, and those who witnessed it. The first of those viewpoints is that of the...
1. Crippled Woman:
Luke says that this woman “had an evil spirit in her that made her crippled,” and “her back was always bent” so much that “she could not stand up straight.” The New American Standard Bible says she was “bent double.” Another translation says she was “so twisted and bent over with arthritis that she couldn’t even look up” (MSG).
It was sometimes the case, during New Testament times, that a demon or evil spirit would inflict some sort of medical condition, such as epilepsy or depression, and that was the case with this poor woman. Whatever the cause, it’s clear that this woman suffered for eighteen years from a condition very similar to a somewhat rare ailment known today as Marie Strumpell disease.
Marie Strumpell disease, also known as ankylosing spondylitis, is a type of arthritis that causes chronic inflammation of the spine and the joints. The inflammation in these areas causes pain and stiffness in and around the spine. Over time, chronic spinal inflammation can lead to a complete cementing together of the vertebrae, a process called anylosis, which results in a curved spine, like a hunched back, as well as the complete loss of spinal mobility. If this was Marie Strumpell disease, or even an extreme form of osteoporosis, this woman would have been very uncomfortable for the past eighteen year, to say the least.