One Sabbath, Jesus the Christ was teaching in a synagogue when He spotted a woman in the listening crowd. This woman was a cripple. Luke 13:11 says “she was bent over and could not straighten up at all,” and she had been this way for eighteen long years.
If you know anything about Jesus, you know that He couldn’t let this woman remain in the state she was in any longer. When He saw her, He put His teaching on pause, called her forward, and said, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then Jesus put His hands on her, and the woman was immediately healed. Her body straightened up. Her bent disappeared. She could walk with her back upright and her head held high.
Imagine how incredible it must have been for her to have been set free in less than eight minutes after being bound for eighteen years. The woman, however, didn’t just rush to enjoy the newfound freedom she had in her limbs. When she saw that she was no longer a cripple, her first reaction was to praise God. Besides this, what other things can we learn from the woman who was crippled?
1. The woman who was crippled did not allow her physical infirmity to stop her from going to God’s house. As a cripple, it would have been much easier for the woman to remain home. She would not have had to go through the strenuous effort of dragging her deformed body through the street. She would not have had to tolerate the sideways glances that some people probably gave her on account of her condition.
And even if she did choose to go somewhere, she could have found other places to be on the Sabbath apart from the synagogue. She could have become bitter at God. She could have thought: It was God who allowed me to be a cripple for eighteen years. Why should I go to His house? Why should I listen to His teachers? What good will that do me? But the woman did not use her physical infirmity to justify becoming angry at God or as an excuse to not go to the synagogue. She willingly went and listened to God’s Word being taught.
We don’t know if the woman knew that Jesus worked miracles or not. But it is obvious that she did not go to the synagogue looking for a miracle or expecting someone to heal her. She simply went to hear God. She was not bringing attention to herself or to her condition. Jesus noticed her on His own. Luke 13:12 says, “When Jesus saw her, He called her forward…” By deciding to spend her Sabbath in God’s presence at the synagogue, the woman unknowingly set herself up to receive a miracle.
The awesome thing is that before the woman even set foot in the synagogue, Jesus knew her name and her need. He knew that she had been a cripple for eighteen long years. He knew that she had suffered in silence. He knew that she had endured much pain. He knew that she, like any normal person, wanted to be healed. He had a miracle ready with her name on it. But if the woman had not come to the synagogue, she would not have received it.
We may not always feel like going to church or praying or reading the Bible as believers in Jesus the Christ, but our feelings should not stop us from serving God as we know we should. We also should not use negative experiences or unfortunate circumstances as an excuse to not carry out our Christian duties. When we are faithful to follow God’s commands, not expecting anything in return, God will meet us at our point of obedience and provide us exactly what He knows we need.
2. The woman who was crippled praised God for her healing. After Jesus put His hands on the woman, she immediately straightened up and Scripture says that she “praised God.” Her first reaction upon being healed was to thank the One who had healed her. Face to face with her Savior (in both a physical and a spiritual sense), the woman was fully aware that grace and mercy had been poured out on her broken body, and she gave God all of the glory for it.
In Luke 13:16, Jesus identifies the woman as a “daughter of Abraham.” He also identifies her physical state, that of being crippled, as the work of Satan. In calling her a daughter of Abraham, Jesus lets us know that she was not just a Jew, but a true believer in God who was being held in the bonds of infirmity by Satan. Jesus hates to see anyone held captive by Satan – physically, spiritually, financially, or emotionally; but He especially hates to see His own children in the grip of the devil. When He saw the woman bent over and bound, unable to lift up her head and look at Him, He immediately broke the bonds that Satan had on her and set His precious daughter free.
This is a picture of what Christ did for me, for you, and for every other sinner, when He died on the cross. Satan had us bound in sin and darkness. We were captives, bent and broken; unable to raise ourselves; unable to lift up our heads or our hearts to Heaven for deliverance. But when Jesus saw our state, He called us forward and through His flawlessness in life, through His grace on the cross, and through His power over death, He broke our bonds, delivered us out of Satan’s hands, and declared, “You are set free.”
Now, we are no longer bent or bound. Our lives have been made straight. Our heads are lifted to God. Our mouths sing a new song – a song of praise to God who has set us free.
3. The woman who was crippled was defended against her haters. After Jesus healed the woman, you would have expected everyone to praise God the way she did. But some, the synagogue leader in particular, was indignant that Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath.
“There are six days for work,” he snapped at the woman and the others in the crowd. “So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”
“You hypocrites!” Jesus shot back. “Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”
At this, Scripture says the synagogue leader and Jesus’ other opponents were humiliated, but the crowd was delighted with all the wonderful things that Jesus was doing.
The synagogue leader’s indignance was directed at Jesus, but he tried to make the woman feel bad for having been healed on the Sabbath. Jesus wouldn’t tolerate such hate. He stood up for her and defended her against the leader’s words. In essence, Jesus was saying, “This is my daughter. Satan has had her long enough. She is not waiting any longer for the deliverance she deserves. She is being healed right here, right now.”
Satan will often use haters to dissuade you from going to God. They will make it seem like you are bothering God or even breaking one of His “rules” by going to Him. But with God, there is no wrong or inconvenient time to go to Him. He is Lord of everyday, and everyday is a good day for healing, for deliverance, and for salvation.