Sunday, August 25, 2019
There are times when things happen to us that had nothing to do with the choices we make. At the beginning of Luke 13, Jesus and the disciples discuss two specific, historical incidences that happened in which many people were killed. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whether their deaths were an act of God or not is not significant from Jesus’ perspective. His point is that everyone needs to repent and be ready.
On the heels of a discussion of about the bad things that can happen, Luke introduces us to the story of a fig tree that bore no fruit and a crippled woman who went to worship one Saturday. Freedom comes with being ready to meet Jesus!
JUST ANOTHER SATURDAY
Years before she had known a normal childhood in Israel. She grew up to be a young woman. And then it started. It became increasingly difficult to stand up and to walk. Perhaps scoliosis or some other osteoarthritis began to shape her spine, contract her muscles and leave her permanently bent over. No longer able to talk to her friends face-to-face, she would spend the next 18 years of her life talking to the tops of people’s feet.
People would see her hobbling down the street and look away or move to the side to avoid her swaying shoulders and tightly gripped walking stick. Having a conversation with her was challenging because the ground would absorb the sound of her words as her compressed lungs would pause to draw in air between sentences. It was easier to simply avoid her.
For 18 years she had lived with this crippling disease, faithfully attending the weekly Saturday Sabbath service to refresh her faith through worship among God’s people. This was the one place where people looked for her, greeted her and helped her find a place to sit.
THEN SHE MET JESUS
Today, things would be different. Entering the synagogue in her usual way, she was surprised to hear a new and different voice call out to her to walk towards him. Perhaps he had reserved a special seat for her. She moved towards the voice and opened her palm in hopes that he would give her some money with which to buy food.
Then, she heard the words: “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” She felt the warmth of a hand gently placed on the back of her head. Suddenly, she felt the rejuvenation of her spine and the loosening of her muscles as she began to slowly, painlessly, straighten up to look into the eyes of her healer, who smiled.
Upon realizing what had just happened the woman breaks out in praise. Only God could have released her from her bondage and set her free. For her, today had started out as a usual Sabbath day. But, this one ended with the touch of the hand of Jesus.
HAVE I MET JESUS?
I seriously doubt that she heard much of the conversation the followed as the indignant leader of the synagogue told everyone else, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” Nor do I suspect that she heard much of what Jesus had to say in response until she heard Jesus say, “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?”
The transforming power of meeting Jesus and allowing Him to touch us where we hurt brings a freedom like we have never known.