Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.  And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself.  When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.”  And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.  But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.”  Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it?  And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?”  As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.
Four simple observations from Jesus’ interaction with this woman bound by demonic disabilities:
- Jesus saw her in her disabled condition
- Jesus saw an opportunity to heal even though initially his purpose in the synagogue was to teach. How often in our lives do we get so caught up in our jobs, duties, responsibilities and ministries that we miss identifying those around us who are hurting and bent over with affliction? As followers of Christ, we need to go through life with “eyes wide open”. Don’t let the ministry get in way of ministering! This is where we are at a great disadvantage in our western, American mindset. Everything is driven by a clock, deadlines, and goals.
- Slow down, look at those around you. Is anyone hurting?
- Jesus called her over to himself
- Jesus stops whatever he was doing, identified the woman in need, and began the process to cross the “bridge” that spanned the distance between them. He allowed what he saw to propel him closer to the woman who was hurting. This was accomplished in the presence of dozens of people, if not hundreds. Despite all the questions that were in people’s minds and hearts, and despite those objections even vocalized, Jesus spoke to the woman. Refusing to be subservient to cultural norms, Jesus took his compassionate care up a notch by calling this disabled woman over to his immediate presence. How would the others watching react? Did they learn lessons in compassion as well? Were they shocked that Jesus actually cared to do more than just observe the situation?
- Once you’ve observed, move toward the hurting. It’s not enough to just see their pain.
- Jesus spoke hope over her
- What a blessed word this woman received! Freedom! After 6570 days, after over 150,000 hours of being enslaved to this evil, disabling spirit, this woman was hearing words of hope! Hope lifts the spirit of the afflicted. Jesus was the One who had the means of changing her situation – and she, in the midst of this crowd of onlookers, was the recipient of that grace. Glory! What might have been her emotions? What kind of roller coaster had she been on this day? Perhaps she came to the synagogue because she heard Jesus was going to be there. No doubt she was feeling hopelessness as Luke reminds us twice in this short narrative of the length of her affliction. Minutes, hours, days, months, years, decades…all without a change in her disability. Jesus spoke to her to give her hope.
- Give hope. You’ve seen the hurting in their situation, you’re moving toward them – closing the gap between you and they, and now give them hope!
- Jesus acted to relieve her situation
- I love when the Gospel remind us that Jesus touched people. The touch of compassion makes a huge difference to those people suffering. Many people see their need, some move toward them, and a few will speak to them. Very few touch them. Touch requires becoming intimate with their affliction. It requires becoming intimate despite their affliction. It is easy to touch and hold those who are attractive to us – it is another thing to view the disfigured, the ugly, the nasty, dirty, and the hideously hurting…and wrap our arms around them. It will require the compassion of Jesus for others. Jesus laid his hands on her and changed her situation.
- Touch people. Don’t stop at looking at them, or moving closer to them, or even speaking to them. Move to this last step in the progression of becoming compassionately like Jesus: touch them. Hold the hurting.
The result of Jesus being compassionate toward this woman with the disability was not just that her situation improved. The end result of this situation was that God was glorified! If we desire to be compassionate like Jesus Christ, let our motivation be the same as his: to bring glory to the Father. Study Jesus. See compassion.