The Power and Threat of the Kingdom of God
WOMAN YOU ARE LOOSED FROM YOUR INFIRMITY
Intro: Jesus’ first synagogue appearance ended in near disaster. In a flash, those in Nazareth who were assembled turn their delight in His words to their desire to kill Him. Remembering that, we may be prepared for another unpleasant encounter. Yet we also recall when the Lord performed a healing in another synagogue on a Sabbath day – the man with a withered hand (6:6-11), so we might anticipate another astonishing miracle. Additionally, Jesus had recently warned about trials in the synagogue – so we might also expect some kind of argument about proper behavior in the assembly.
Luke 12:11 “Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say.
Luke 12:12 For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
Today’s story has been called “a redemptive encounter of startling proportions.”
Acts 10:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
What kind of good will Jesus do? What kind of healing will He accomplish? Will our expectations be disappointed?
Luke 13:10 Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.
The synagogue setting is important because it was in the synagogue back in Nazareth where Jesus announced His mission: “…to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (4:18).
Now in a synagogue Jesus will free one of His wounded daughters from the bondage of the devil.
WHAT JESUS CAN DO FOR THE SUFFERING
Luke 13:11 And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.
The Gospels demonstrate that the synagogue is a place where the disabled are welcome.
Crippled for 18 years, she may well have come to regard her position as a social outcast as ordinary in the village where she lived.
The lady healed in this section had known a long and apparently irreversible bondage to a crippling disease.
Her malady seems to have been a medical condition in which the bones in her back were fused into a rigid mass. We would recoil at the X-ray. She had a severe curvature of the spine.
In the 1st century, people with physical deformities were expected to remain socially invisible, especially if they were women.
Rarely, if ever, would a woman approach a rabbi, nor did rabbis as a rule speak with women.
Yet, Jesus takes the initiative with this forlorn daughter.
Luke 13:12 But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.”
Whether she can see anyone from her crippled vantage point we cannot determine. But the Lord can see her.
The woman does not approach Jesus. She makes no request of Him. Nothing is said of her faith (yet).
He saw her; He summoned her; He spoke to her.
Christ announces her immediate release from the bondage that had tormented her for nearly two decades.
Jesus has liberated a captive, just as the Scriptures foretold and He affirmed in 4:18.
Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed”
There is no suggestion in this story that there was anything immoral in this woman’s life to bring on this suffering. This was a “spirit-caused infirmity.” She was the victim of demonic interference. It was cruel and long-lasting. No religious faithfulness had solved it.
Here she was in the synagogue. She had found her way to the place of worship. Later, Jesus will describe her as someone who has faith and belongs to God. Yet she agonized under the power of evil for 18 long years.
Luke 13:13 And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
The only instance of laying on of hands in the OT that relates to healing is Naaman the Syrian’s desire for the healing touch of Elisha.
2 Kings 5:11 But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’”
The conventional wisdom was that healing required physical contact with the agent of the healing. Elisha only offered Naaman a bath in the muddy Jordan river.
But Jesus often laid hands on the suffering individual to give them a touch from heaven.
Christ announces that she is delivered, and then He touches her with healing power. The result? Her physical condition is radically reversed. Her bent body stands upright. Her pain diminishes. She can look into the eyes of others once again.
This calls for praise! As spontaneous as her healing, she clamors to give glory to God!
Praise and/or glorifying God is a signature characteristic of Luke’s writing.
In every instance it comes from those whose afflictions or social conditions place them on the margins of Jewish ritual cleanness: shepherds (2:20), healed paralytic (5:25), crowds (5:26), widow whose son is raised (7:16), bent-over woman (13:13), healed Samaritan (17:15), healed blind man (18:43), Roman (23:47).
Jesus reverses suffering. Jesus is praised by outsiders. Jesus loves those whom the Father has given Him.
Is there something you need reversed by Jesus?
HOW HYPOCRITES MISUSE THE SCRIPTURES
Luke 13:14 But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.”
The role of the synagogue ruler was to maintain the reading and faithful teaching of the law of Moses. He had oversight of the weekly meetings for the local faith community.
This ruler was annoyed by Jesus’ act of love and display of power because it suggested that Christ, and not him, possessed the highest authority in the house that day. He seems to have no capacity to enter into the delight of the woman’s restoration.
The ruler makes his appeal to the crowd and not to Jesus. He seeks to question Jesus’ influence and turn the crowd against Him.
He publicly challenges Christ’s authority as a teacher and reasserts himself as the authorized interpreter of Scripture.
In the present case, although no one will deny the tragedy of this woman’s disorder, her condition is hardly life-threatening. After all, she has been living with this for nearly two decades. (Any modern ER would make her wait, while the bleeders get attention!)
“People should get themselves healed on any of the six other days.”
Even though the ruler had complained to the crowd, Jesus speaks directly to him.
Luke 13:15 The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it?
Observe Luke’s change in reference to Jesus. He calls Him “the Lord” instead of by name. This is a strategic title. Luke has already emphasized that Jesus is “Lord of the Sabbath” (6:5).
He offers a rebuttal to the synagogue ruler’s indignant challenge. But what Jesus says is not simply an alternative opinion from a visiting rabbi, it was also a declaration from heaven itself. It was an answer from “the Lord.”
Jesus speaks with the authority of the very God who established the Sabbath.
Gen 2:2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.
Gen 2:3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
Christ suggests that what the ruler has said is shameful and scandalous. How could anyone possibly object to an act which fulfilled both the spirit and purpose of the Law?
He is denying a human being something that the rabbis freely granted to animals.
All the rabbis were united in understanding that the Law of Moses required compassion to animals in distress. For example, a farm animal that was tied or confined, must be freed and led to water – even on Sabbath (Sabb. 5)
To show such consideration to an animal that was bound, and yet refuse it to a person is straight up hypocrisy.
“Hypocrite(s)” in this context are persons who do not understand God’s purpose, who therefore are unable to discern accurately the meaning of the Scriptures, and, therefore, whose piety is a sham.
Luke 13:16 So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound — think of it — for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?”
What does it mean to be a “daughter of Abraham?”
Since Abraham was the primary recipient of God’s promises, he became the father of God’s true children.
In Luke, Jesus names both a son of Abraham (Zacchaeus, 19:9) and a daughter of Abraham (bent-over woman, 13:16). Both were marginalized outcasts who were either despised or forgotten. Both were designated as believers by Christ Himself!
Also in Luke, an unbeliever (“rich man”) presumes to be a child of “Father Abraham” (16:24) and begs him for mercy in Hades!
Jesus does not recognize him as a “son of Abraham,” however, because his selfish use of wealth and callous disregard for the poor during his life on earth proved his severe judgment to be warranted. He lacked the fruit of a life of faith in Abraham’s God.
Luke 3:7 Then he [John the Baptist] said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Luke 3:8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.”
The crippled woman in this text was one of God’s elect children. Therefore, it was necessary for her to be released from Satanic bondage.
If an animal, how much more a daughter of Abraham? If one whom you have bound for a few hours, how much more one whom Satan has bound for 18 years? If you can loose the bonds of an animal on the Sabbath as well as the other six days of the week, how much more is it necessary for God to loose this woman’s bond on the Sabbath?
WHAT SATAN CAN DO TO SAINTS
He can terrorize even the people of God and wreak havoc in their physical bodies.
The central purpose for sending the Son of God to earth was to vanquish Satan and plunder his reserves.
1 John 3:8 …For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
Mark 3:26 And if Satan has risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but has an end.
Mark 3:27 No one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.
Rom 16:20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
Rev 20:10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
It was no coincidence that Jesus should free a woman bound by Satan on a Sabbath.
Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. It is His day, and He must complete His mission of redemption on Sabbath, just as God completed His mission of creation on Sabbath.
Healing this woman on a Sabbath day is no violation of the Law, as the synagogue ruler implies, but instead it is perfectly in line with the character of God who is rich in mercy and abounding in love.
A day of worship is the perfect time for God to show His compassion to those who suffer.
For Jesus, the essence of Sabbath is not to postpone or avoid the work of God, but to complete it.
The realizing of God’s saving purpose in Jesus results in yet another polarity in His ministry.
Luke 13:17 And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.