Have you ever stayed home from church just because you didn’t feel like going? Might you be missing out on a blessing by staying home? In today’s episode of All God’s Women we meet a Daughter of Abraham, a woman who came faithfully to the synagogue, despite her ailment, and received unexpected healing as a result.
We meet this Daughter of Abraham in Luke 13. Jesus was teaching at a synagogue when he saw this woman in the crowd. She was bent over and unable to stand up straight and had suffered this way for eighteen years.
He stopped His teaching, called her over to Him, and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight.
She responded by glorifying God.
It was a beautiful moment that didn’t go unnoticed. When the synagogue leader observed what happened, he was indignant that Jesus would heal on the Sabbath. He complained that there were six days when men could work, why not heal on those days rather than the Sabbath.
Jesus responded by calling him a hypocrite. He pointed out that all the religious leaders loosed their ox or donkey from their stall and watered them on the Sabbath, so why should this Daughter of Abraham not be loosed from Satan’s bond on a Sabbath.
As a result of Jesus’ response, Luke tells us that His adversaries were shamed while the multitude rejoiced in all that Jesus was doing.
The Rest of the Story
This is such a short and seemingly simple story, but if we delve a little deeper we discover so many more layers that are missed when we do a quick read through.
First, this woman had a “spirit of infirmity”. Jesus mentioned her being bound by Satan. What does that mean?
It appears from the words chosen that this was a spiritual attack rather than a merely physical ailment. Something traumatic happened eighteen years ago that left this woman slumped over and unable to straighten back up. It makes me think of Pilgrim’s Progress and the burdens that they carried. This was literally like she was carrying a heavy burden and couldn’t get out from under it.
What happened eighteen years ago? How did she respond at the time? Did she try going to doctors for healing? Did she know what was going on? We have no way of knowing, and, honestly, it doesn’t matter. More importantly, Jesus knew what happened. He knew what she was going through.
It would have been easy for this woman to stay home. Going to church wasn’t easy. Services were long, and they didn’t have padded pews. As humped over as she was, it would have been hard for her to even see who was speaking. Then there would be the stares, everyone looking at her, wondering what was wrong with her. Many would have been trying to figure out her horrific sin that led to her condition. Why not just avoid the hassle and worship God at home? He’d understand,
But Jesus called her a Daughter of Abraham. This is the only time this term was used in the Bible. Sons of Abraham was common, but never Daughter of Abraham. Why did Jesus call her that?
Obviously, this woman was a Jew, a descendent of Abraham. But to refer to her in such a manner, indicates that she was more than just a Jew, she was a devout woman following in Abraham’s footsteps. Despite her affliction, this woman still chose to follow the Lord. What an amazing testament of her faith to have Jesus call her that.
This woman had long ago accepted the burden she was bearing and went on with her life. She wasn’t asking for healing. She wasn’t expecting a miracle. She was merely going to church like she always did, content with learning, growing, and worshipping.
And then it happened.
Jesus saw her.
What must she have thought when Jesus stopped His teaching and called her to leave where she was and go up front to Him? I imagine she felt self conscious, maybe a little nervous, certainly confused as to what was about to happen.
When she got to Him, He said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” At first, nothing happened. Then He touched her, and immediately she was made straight.
This is the only time this phrase “you are loosed” is used in the New Testament. It means she was released from the burden that held her captive. Then with His touch, new life surged through her, and she was able to stand again.
For eighteen years this woman had stared at the ground, unable to stand face to face with those around her. For eighteen years she’d not been able to look into someone’s eyes and have them look back into hers.
Imagine the feelings that must have flowed through her as she stood for the first time and saw Jesus face to face, looking into her eyes with more compassion and love than anything she’d ever experienced before. All that suffering was worth it in order to experience that moment together.
Before she could make her way back to the back of the room, the synagogue leader went at it, attacking Jesus, by “preaching” to the crowd, showing them the sins of Jesus. But oh, how it must have touched her heart to hear Jesus defending his healing of her and referring to her as a Daughter of Abraham.
Jesus saw her. He knew all about her. He healed her. And He affirmed her faith.
Like this woman, you might be burdened down by spiritual attacks. It may be that your affliction is visible just like this woman’s posture. Or it may be that yours is not so obvious. You may be suffering in a way that no one else knows about. Whatever it is that you’re going through, Jesus understands. Though you may be lurking in the shadows, feeling invisible to the rest of the world, He sees you and He knows what no one else knows. And He loves you.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by life’s attacks. They may weigh us down and discourage us. But no matter the challenge, we need to continue in our faith if we want to receive the blessing. However long it’s been, keep persevering. Never give up. He hears you and will heal you when the time is right.
Lord God, thank You for seeing us and for calling us to You. Thank You for Your understanding and compassion. Forgive us those times we get discouraged and lose hope. In those times when we’re feeling overwhelmed by life’s burdens, please draw us near and renew us with Your healing power. Restore our tired spirits. Thank You for defending us when those around us may not recognize our worth. Thank You for always being our advocate. We love You. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Tune in next week when we look at women in parables.
Her Story: Luke 13:10-17
Bible Study Review
- What was wrong with the Daughter of Abraham?
- How long had she been afflicted?
- What happened when Jesus touched her?
Thoughts to Ponder
- What happened 18 years ago?
- Why was the Synagogue leader’s response to her healing?
- How did the people react to Jesus’ response?
- Do you remain faithful even when afflicted?
- Are you willing to go when Jesus calls you?
- How are you like/unlike this woman?
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