Women Jesus Met – The Woman Bent Double
St Luke 13: 10 – 17
Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, ‘Woman, you are set free from your ailment.’ When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, ‘There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.’ But the Lord answered him and said, ‘You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?’ When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
When I look at scripture, I have to confess that most of the time I look at the individual people. What is their story and how does it connect with mine or with people I know? Stories make sense to me.
When reading these verses, I am struck by Jesus’ response to the Pharisees. They are reminding him that it is unlawful to heal on the Sabbath. And his response is ‘What better way to use a Sabbath than to heal a daughter of Abraham—a child of God?’
Perhaps this scripture is not only about healing, but about the role of religion in our world. Is the church’s role to create laws by which people should live or is it for healing? It seems pretty clear to me that Jesus wants the Pharisees, and us, to see that religion/church is for healing. We, as Jesus’ followers and members of his church, need to work to bring healing to the world.
As pandemic restrictions ease, we may be called to listen to the pain of those around us. As listeners, we bring healing. We may be called to speak against injustice, thus bringing healing. We may be called to work to reduce climate change, thus bringing healing. We may be called to serve food, thus bringing healing. We may be called to move outside church buildings to work in ways that bring healing, in different ways than our previous patterns of church.
There are many people doubled over in agony with the weight of climate change, racism, poverty, anxiety, and grief. How can we, the body of Christ, offer healing in God’s name?
Living God, help us see the weight of the world carried by our friends and neighbours. Give us the vision and courage to be instruments of your healing through your church and in new ways. Amen.