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by John Penn
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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 eighteen 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 he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. 14Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, "There are six 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 your 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 eighteen 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 he was doing" (Luke 13:10-17, NIV).

You and I are more than a number and Jesus proved that in healing this woman who was permanently bent over. Not only are you more than a number, you are valued above animals. You are more important than man's systems and laws that value laws above people. This healing proves that you are loved and valued above systems and laws.

This healing story of the woman bent over for eighteen years marks the last time Jesus would teach, preach, heal, or would ever enter another synagogue. It also comes just before Jesus introduces the parable of the scope and nature of the kingdom of God.

Jesus is moving toward Jerusalem where he will soon give his life as an atonement for human sin. This is a journey of obedience to fulfill God's plan of salvation for humankind. This is why the healing of this woman and its implications are so important to our understanding of the ministry of healing.

This healing story is important to the body of Christ for a number of reason. First, it reveals why healing played such a central part in the life and ministry of Jesus and the early church, because it is a kingdom activity of God.

Second, healing is a revelation that the kingdom of Satan is coming to an end. Jesus says that this woman's physical condition was the work of Satan. By healing this woman, Jesus reveals that God's power is superior to that of Satan. Good triumphs over evil.

Third, healing is a sign that God's kingdom has come to liberate people from the evil oppression of the devil (Acts 10:38; Matthew 10:1-2; Luke 10:17-20). God's kingdom of light and power will prevail against the kingdom of darkness.

Fourth, this healing story reminds us that that people take precedent over man-made systems and laws. Jesus points out a serious flaw of rules of the synagogue concerning the Sabbath.

He points out the hypocrisy of their teachings, which puts the care of domestic animals above the well being of this woman, who had been suffering with this severe crippling conditions for eighteen. Jesus would have none of this, because this woman is valued and loved by God as a child of Abraham.

The synagogue ruler is indignant at Jesus because he had healed the woman on the Sabbath. In one of his teachings, Jesus reminds the Jewish religious leaders that the Sabbath was made for mankind and not vice versa. He says: "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:26-27). At another time, Jesus says, "So the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath" (Mark 2:28).

Jesus knew that God had made healing apart of the work of the kingdom. Healing, wholeness and salvation are to be experienced by all of creation, including God's good earth. According to Jesus, human suffering is not God's will for His creation. Why? Because it is contrary to the abundant life Jesus came to make available to the people of God.

Fifth, because healing is a kingdom activity, healing is not only the will of God, it is always the right response to human suffering. Sixth, Jesus initiates the healing of this woman.
While teaching in the synagogue, Jesus witnesses how difficult it was for this woman to stand up straight, he calls her over and says these power filled words: "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity. Then he puts his hands on her, and immediately she strengthened up and praised God" (Luke 13:12-13). By putting his hands on her, Jesus identifies with this woman's infirmity. This is what the Prophet Isaiah said:

"Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God and stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:4-5, NIV).

The next time you question whether it is right or is the will of God to heal, read this healing story. It is made clear that from Jesus' action and words to this suffering woman that she should not have to wait another day, another hour, or even another minute, as a child of Abraham.

It is clear that Jesus does not desire that any of God's child suffer at the hand of Satan. The people who witnessed this miraculous healing praised God for his mercy and grace. Only those who love rules above people are indignant to God's kingdom actions to free those who suffer.

As Christians, we are to respond to human suffering as Jesus did, never putting off doing good today, for tomorrow.

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