Summary: Jesus helps us when we move through the storms of life.
August 25, 2013
It’s unexpected and it’s agonizing. You reach to pick up a package, you bend down to tie your shoes, you sneeze, you twist as you stretch, or maybe you scoop up a child. And something suddenly goes wrong. You know it in an instant. A wrench. A tweak. A tear. A pull. It’s a back muscle, a disc, a nerve . . . . you don’t know what it is, but you know it’s there, and you know it’s there, because you definitely feel the pain. Something’s gone completely wrong. You’re in pain and misery. There’s weeping and gnashing of teeth because of the pain you’re in.
Have you ever been there!?!? Too many of us have been there.
Even if you’ve never studied anatomy, you’re immediately an expert in just how intimately your back is connected to your arms and legs, neck and shoulders, hands and feet. Everything near your back, hurts. It even radiates to your tingling toes. Toes aren’t supposed to tingle. You see, when there’s a “wreck” around the spinal cord, known as the “super highway” of our nervous and pain receptors, all the other roadways in our body, all the muscles and nerves, suffer together.
For the past three weeks we’ve been looking at the storms of life, and today we’re going to end this series by looking at a gospel story in which Jesus tackles a debilitating back issue. It’s only found in Luke. Let’s look at it ~
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 18 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 Jesus put His hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.
14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are 6 days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”
15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?
16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom satan has kept bound for 18 long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”
17 When He said this, all His opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things Jesus was doing.
Jesus saw a woman in the synagogue, she may not have seen him, remember, she’s bent over. She didn’t seek out Jesus, either. She was “bent over and could not straighten up at all.” Luke doesn’t tell us anything else about this woman. We don’t know if she was rich or poor, the matriarch or a pariah, someone who was honored or ostracized. All we know is that she had endured “a spirit” that had crippled her, bent her in half, for the past 18 years.
I want to make a few observations ~
Firstly, scripture tells us this woman “had been crippled by a spirit for 18 years.” Jesus also tells us in verse 16, satan has kept her bound for 18 long years. I don’t know what it’s like to suffer for 18 long years. I’ve had back issues, in my early 20's I was in the hospital, in traction, for 9 days because of my sciatic nerve. I’ve had recurrences every so often; and there’s some stuff I no longer do. And I can tell you exactly where that nerve runs on my left side. BUT, 18 years of that. Any candidates to try out her lifestyle? I didn’t think so! We’ve all got our issues anyways, right?
What I love about this woman whom we don’t know anything about - - - is where was she? She was at worship!! How excellent is that. Maybe she didn’t have pain. Maybe she just lived as a hunchback, but imagine going through life like that. Bent over, not able to enjoy a beautiful rainbow. Not able to reach for something over your head. Not able to look someone in the eye. Or maybe there was severe pain, which never really went away.
Also, know that in that day, the people looked at you with disdain if you had some sickness, especially a debilitating one. Jesus challenged the ancient belief that her illness is a direct punishment from God for sin. Remember, there was a direct correlation between health and sickness and your standing before God. The sicker you were, the greater the sinner you were believed to be. The more prosperous and healthy you were, the people believed, the greater you were before God.