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.
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.
My grandmother suffers from a very similar condition. You wouldn’t know it though, unless you looked at her. Her spine is noticeably bowed from osteoporosis so much that she’s also “bent double,” but she’s got the most pleasant disposition of anyone you’ll ever meet. Anytime I go to the farm for visit, she goes out her way to make me feel at home. I can’t stay more than five minutes without her offering to make me something to eat or get me something to drink. Even when she was battling cancer and enduring radiation treatments, she never lost her cheerfulness—at least not that I ever saw.
I imagine this woman was a lot like my grandma. The Bible says that they were “in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath day”—the first-century equivalent of being in church on Sunday morning. I wonder, if I had been crippled for eighteen years, if I would be faithful to worship God week after week in the synagogue?
Certainly this woman must have prayed and asked God for deliverance, but still she was crippled. God’s apparent indifference, however, didn’t cause her to become bitter or resentful. There she was in the synagogue—worshipping and praising the God she loved. A lesser person might have become angry or disillusioned with God. Many people do. Suffering often causes people to withdrawn from God or perhaps even blame him for their pain. But this woman loved God despite her disability and she was loyal to him.