Summary: What hinders God’s church and God’s people from serving God? In Luke 13:10-17 we will consider the Proper Interpretation, the Prophetic Interpretation and the Personal Interpretation.
The Spirit of Infirmity
Introduction – Luke 13:10-17
This passage can be interpreted three ways:
1) The Proper Interpretation
2) The Prophetic Interpretation
3) The Personal Interpretation
I. The Proper Interpretation
By the proper interpretation I am referring to what really happened in this story. I want to take the text as it stands and see what God has for us.
(A) The Miserable Woman (v.11)
In this short story we find a woman with a “spirit of infirmity”, which literally means ‘to be in want of strength’. She had a weakness whereby she was unable to do anything (i.e. like normal people could). The Bible also reveals that because of her condition she was “bent over”. In other words, she could not stand up straight because the bones of her spine were fused together into a rigid mass. The fact that she “could not…raise” herself up speaks of her utter helplessness and utter hopelessness. She was of no use to anyone. And the sad part about this story was that she was like this for “eighteen years”.
The only highlight as far as she was concerned was that “she was found in the synagogue”. What a powerful testimony. She did not consider her situation as a complete hindrance. Despite her circumstances she was still able to worship God. How often do we stay away from the house of the Lord because of a minor ailment? Despite bodily infirmities, they should not keep us from worshipping God.
(B) The Merciful Saviour (vv.12-13)
This short story is also a wonderful revelation of mercy and grace. For everything that was going on in the life of Jesus the Bible records the fact that “Jesus saw her”. This is mercy and grace at its best. Have you ever noticed that every time Jesus is in a crowd he looks for those in need? Jesus knows and cares about our needs. Jesus sees us amidst the hustle and bustle of life. But not only did he see the poor woman, the story continues when “Jesus called her”. Again, this is mercy and grace at its best. Jesus took the initiative. The woman did not come seeking a cure (i.e. Jesus was teaching in the synagogue). We then read that “the woman obeyed”. Despite her circumstances (again!), she was able to respond to the command of Jesus. Too many times when we are laid aside with physical ailments, self-pity will cause us to be deaf to that still small voice seeking to encourage us. What happened next was that “she came to Jesus”. She came not seeking a cure, but perhaps to receive some kind of teaching from Jesus, who was
teaching in the synagogue at the time. But, instead of receiving a word from Jesus she found relief from her infirmity. It has been said that those who seek the care of their soul will find that it will benefit their body.
(C) The Miraculous Cure (V.13)
The cure that the woman received for her infirmity is described in a number of ways. First, it was “immediate”. Jesus spoke but a word and it was done. Second, it was “complete”. She was completely delivered from her ailment. Third, it was “miraculous” She that was crooked was made straight. She experienced a radical change in her life. After her miraculous cure the Bible records for us that she “glorified God”. This was her immediate response to her cure. She recognized the divine power that Jesus had and praised God for it.
This is a beautiful picture of a sin-bound sinner who can be delivered by the saving power of Jesus. (see Psalm 40:2-3).
II. The Prophetic Interpretation
Let us interpret the woman in this short story as the Church, the Bride of Christ. Therefore, the question we need to ask ourselves is this: “In today’s church what kind of infirmities are within that prevent the Church from being useful to God?” “Is there anything in the Church that causes her to be ‘bent over’ so that it becomes helpless?”
Within the church of Laodicea, as recorded in the book of Revelation, there were a number of ‘infirmities’ which gripped the church and caused it to be of no use to God.
(A) Lukewarmness – vv.15-16
Laodicea was a true success story. It was a city famous for its wealth, its clothing industry, and its eye powder. This contributed to the prevalent attitude that the people of this city could cope with life quite well by itself. Unfortuneately, it is this same attitude that filtered over into the church.
Rather than being hot or cold, the church was ‘bent over’ with lukewarmness. What was the result? She experienced absolute and total rejection. The word ‘hot’, (Gk.zestos), means more than hot, it refers to boiling point (i.e. our English word ‘zest’). Laodicea was a church that had no zest for the Lord. There can be no real Christianity without enthusiasm. We often settle for the mediocre, the normal, but Christianity demands that we love our enemies, give to the poor and pray for those who insult us. Yet, so often we settle for that which is comfortable, afraid to venture out beyond our comfort zones. The Bible describes for us 3 Spiritual States.