Luke 13: “10And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. 12And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. 13And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.”
This scripture hit me because it is timeless. There are so many ways that life can bend us, tear us down, break us apart. What we do to ourselves is bad enough, but to have to carry the garbage that other people throw on us, we have to have strong backs, or we will bend.
The scripture doesn’t give an age of the woman. As I thought about the amount of time, “eighteen years”, I thought something: What if she was only 23 years old? What if some man in her community or family touched her inappropriately, at the age of five? What if she grew up shunned, an outcast? Bent from the age of five years old? Emotionally, bent.
According to the time and customs, she could have married at 12 or 13, and is now 30 years old. She’s been abused by her husband, beat up and beat down, his words hitting her like slaps in the face, and fists pounding her. No one to save her, and no one to turn to, suppose she’s ridiculed by the other women and disrespected by her own sons? She bends.
Or, what if she’s in her forties, and the weight of what she experienced as a child, and young woman has taken its toll on her and just slowly bent her. It’s something that has been progressing for many years. Maybe her husband died, her kids have left her, and she is alone, lonely. Her life has not been a happy one, and she’s tired. She’s given into the bend.
But something else struck me as well. What if, she has raised her own kids, now she is raising the next generations. Her sons and daughters were out in the world, not taking responsibility for the lives they’ve created, dropping them off for days which turned into weeks, months and years. This older woman raised her grandchildren, who in turn repeated the patterns of their parents. Now, this old woman is raising her great-grandchildren. She bent under too much pressure.
Maybe she has health issues, or financial issues, and they’ve just weighed her down, bent her forward. She’s bitter, angry, she has nothing nice or pleasant to say to anyone, or about anyone. Maybe she’s afraid to try new things, she’s been the way she is for so long, that she sees nothing new for herself. So many different things can pile on us, weigh us down, keep us unmotivated to stand.
Verse 11 says: she…“was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself”, meaning she couldn’t straighten up on her own. I looked at pictures of bows and arrows. The bows were not all the same, some were small, large, curved in an arc, some had two or three curves, some were bent with a point. There were so many different kinds of bows, just as there are so many different kinds of bowed women. Being bowed is not just relative to a certain class or breed, creed or color. Rich women kill themselves, just as poor ones do. The woman who seems to have everything is envious of the woman who seems to have nothing. The woman who is dressed like a million bucks, sometimes has no money in her Prada bag. A bowed spirit can bend anyone.
This bent woman goes to hear Jesus speak. It’s crowded, nobody’s paying attention to her. She’s not even worthy of a name, so they don’t speak to her. She’s the “bent over woman”. She can only see feet, no one bothers to bend down to see her face, children are probably mean to her. She’s in the way, and she knows it. So she makes her way to the back of the crowd. She just wants to hear Jesus. But in the crowd, in the midst, she stands out. Jesus sees her, and calls her to Him. It would have been so much easier if He had walked to her, but He makes this overlooked woman, the star of the show. Now everybody sees her, they have to make an opening for her. She has to make her way through the crowd to the One who called her. The One who chose her. The One she came to see, wants to see her. When everyone else turned their backs; mocked her; laughed at her; didn’t want to look at her; couldn’t be bothered with her, Jesus called her!
So! While looking at the pictures, I noticed that there was no way to straighten any of the bows, you will actually break it if you tried to straighten it, because it’s not willing to give of itself, it’s not yielding to change, it’s not pliable. If bows are to be made straight, they have to be broken down, reformed, reshaped, rebuilt.
“12And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. 13And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.”
Jesus just wants us to come to Him, to trust Him, to lean into Him. He just wants a chance to rebuild us, reform us, reshape us. To love us. He said, in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” He wants us to stand and shake it off! Glorify God.
You already know, when God starts working in our lives, somebody, somewhere, has something to say.
“14And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.” He’s not speaking to Jesus directly, but making a side comment to the congregation.
“15The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?” In other words, “don’t you take your ox and your donkey to get water? Aren’t you doing some type of work on the Sabbath?
“16And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?” Jesus is saying that Satan has had a hold on this woman for 18 years, if your ox can drink water on the Sabbath, why can’t she be healed? And he calls her a daughter of Abraham, meaning that because of her faith, she is entitled to receive the promise of the Spirit.
“17And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.” Jesus went on about his business of healing, and telling the people about the goodness of God.
So I say to you, Daughter of Abraham, one entitled to the promise. You have a right to be loosed from your chains. You have a right to stand. You have a right to be joyful. You have a right to love. There are young women watching you, let them see you stand in the glory of God. Yes, there will be scars, circumstances, and disappointments, but you are healed! Our God is mighty to save! There is nothing too hard for Him, give it to him. Stand up! If Jesus conquered the grave, what more can He do in your life?