Cured at Last!
“And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, 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. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And 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. The 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? And 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? And 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.” (Luke 13:10-17)
Our Lord’s miracles were intended to be types of his mercy and grace, confirming his claims as the Messiah, the Deliverer of Israel, the Son of God, our Redeemer and our King. When he healed the ailments of men’s bodies, he was showing that he has power to cure the maladies of our souls. When he raised the dead, he was showing us that he, who is the resurrection and the life, has power to give spiritual, eternal life to those who are dead in trespasses and sins. When he multiplied the loaves and fishes, gathered fish into the empty nets of his toiling disciples, and caused a coin to be found in the mouth of a fish, he was teaching us that he has the power to provide our every need in this world. And when he spoke peace to the troubled sea and walked across the water to his disciples, he was teaching us that he who rules the world rules the storms of our lives, and when our souls are in trouble, he will come to us to comfort us.
Whenever we read of miracles performed by our Lord Jesus Christ, the believing heart should always see in the miracle a message of mercy. Our Lord, by leaving us the record of these things, is saying to us, “As I have worked glorious things upon the earth in the days of my flesh, I will surely work even more glorious things for you in my exaltation.”
As our Lord Jesus Christ met this poor woman in the synagogue and raised her up from her long and painful infirmity, he now meets sinners in the assembly of his saints and raises those who are bowed down by his almighty grace. His name is Jehovah-rapha. He says, “I am the Lord that healeth thee” (Exodus15:26). I hold this woman before you, whose name I do not know, as an example of what the Lord Jesus Christ can do, and in every age and place does for poor, needy sinners such as we are.
First, the Holy Spirit calls our attention to this woman’s condition. — “And, 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…And 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?” (vv. 11 and 16).
On the Sabbath day the Lord Jesus could always be found in the synagogue, or in the temple teaching. He was in his element in the house of God. And he was most happy when he was declaring to men the things of God. In order to confirm the doctrine he taught and to illustrate it, he performed this great miracle of mercy. There is no other case exactly like it mentioned in the Scriptures. Therefore, Luke calls our attention to it with the word, “Behold!”
We are not told precisely what was wrong with this woman, only that she was “bowed together,” that her condition was caused by Satan binding her, that she had been bowed together for 18 years, and that, “she could in no wise lift herself up.” She was very sick; and her infirmity was not only physical, but spiritual as well. Her outward appearance was an index of her inward torment. The appearance of her body was a picture of her soul. She was bowed together. Commenting on this passage, Spurgeon wrote, “Spiritual deformity assumes many forms, and each form is painful to look upon.”
The next time you go to the house of God, try to picture in your mind what the assembly might look like if every person present appeared outwardly to be what he is inwardly, as this woman did. Suppose that your physical appearance were a reflection of your inward state. The place would be truly pitiful to look upon. Over against the wall you might see a dead corpse. On the other side you might look with shock upon a poor leper. In another place you might see a paralyzed man with trembling faith. Sitting on one side of you might be a woman with fits of passion and despair, on the other side a man with flashes of fever and chills, and behind you a person with a convulsing heart, torn between heaven and earth.
Every gospel church might rightly be called “Bethel” (House of God) and “Bethesda” (House of Mercy, or House of Healing). Assembled together God’s elect are a multitude of sick folk, poor, lame, broken, halt, maimed, and impotent. But in the house of God the Lord Jesus is in our midst. He is present in mercy to relieve the miseries of his chosen.
This poor woman in our text was probably unnoticed in the crowd. Being bowed together, she was dwarfed in size. It appears that she regularly attended the synagogue. So the people there had become hardened to her condition. They paid her no attention. But the Son of God saw her, had compassion on her and healed her. And here she is held up as an example of grace.
This woman’s condition is a picture of every lost sinner. She was bowed together (Ecclesiastes 7:29). Blessed is the person who is bowed together in heart by reason of sin! She had been in this horrible deformity for a long, long time. Her misery was the work of Satan. And “she could in no wise lift herself up” (Jeremiah 13:23). She was a prisoner in her own body, a prisoner of sickness, but a prisoner of hope. Though she could not lift herself up, she was in the presence of One who could lift her up. And she had hope because he had lifted up many before her.
This woman may have reasoned in her own mind, “If this Man, who has healed so many others, is pleased to do so, he can heal me too!” I am not certain about what she may have thought, but I tell you this with certainty: — The Lord Jesus is able to save unto the uttermost all who come to God by him.
This woman’s condition is also a picture of many of God’s saints in this world. Without question, she was a believer, a saved woman, one who worshipped and served the true and living God, though she was sorely afflicted in the providence of God by the hand of Satan. We know she was a believer, a child of God because there is no mention here of her being forgiven. In other places, those healed were also forgiven. Apparently she was already forgiven. And our Lord tells us that she was “a daughter of Abraham,” an Israelite indeed.
Many of Abraham’s sons and daughters, many of God’s saints in this world are like this poor woman, “bowed together,” being afflicted and bound, in a sense, by Satan, having “a spirit of infirmity.” She had lost all her natural brightness and cheerfulness. No doubt, as a girl she was as smiling, sparkle-eyed and happy as anyone. But gradually there crept over her body an infirmity, which dragged her face downward, until at last she was bowed together. For eighteen long years, she had walked with her face toward the earth, as if she were looking for a grave. It had been eighteen years since she had seen the noonday sun, looked upon the singing birds in the trees, or beheld the star-lit sky.
She was bowed down with a spirit of infirmity. Are you like this poor soul, perpetually bowed down? Perhaps you remember happier days; but now you are bowed together in the melancholy spirit of infirmity. It has been a long, long time since you have been able to enter into sweet communion with God, behold the face of your beloved Savior, or enjoy the peace, comfort, and joy of faith. In your inmost soul you pine for him whose presence is your happiness.
“Where is the blessedness I knew
When first I saw the Lord?
Where is the sweet refreshing view
Of Jesus in His Word?
What blissful hours I then enjoyed,
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void
The world can never fill!”
This woman, being bowed together, was bowed toward herself, bowed toward that which is most depressing. By some unexplainable mystery, depression breeds depression, grief multiplies, and a melancholy spirit is a legion in number. And the more you are bowed down to look to yourself, the more bowed down you will be.
We never find peace, assurance, and joy in Christ by looking to ourselves. Our Savior never admonishes us to look to ourselves, but to him. Religion and the devil tell us to look inwardly to ourselves. The Lord Jesus commands us always and only to look to him (Isaiah 45:22; Hebrews 12:1-2). Any religion that sets you looking to yourself is nothing but a snare of Satan.
Next, we are told that this poor soul “could in no wise lift up herself.” No need to blame her for her condition. One of her older sisters may have scolded her for her condition, when she began to stoop, saying, “Sister, you must not give in to your feelings. Straighten up, or you will become stooped and deformed.” What good advice some people can give!
This poor woman was bound by Satan. And when Satan binds the soul, it is as truly bound as when a man snares an eagle and binds it. This woman was bound to herself! All the advice, counsel, and preaching in the world could not lift her up. And she could not lift herself up, though she wanted to do so with all her heart. Her free will could not change her condition!
Worst of all, she had been bowed down for eighteen years. — Eighteen years! That is a long, long time. Eighteen years of happiness fly by more swiftly than we are able to fathom. Eighteen years of happiness is a short span of time. But eighteen years of misery, eighteen years of pain, eighteen years of being bowed down, who can measure that? Eighteen long years, each year dragging twelve miserable months behind it, each month pulling four heavy weeks, each week loaded with seven gloomy days, and each day loaded down with twenty-four grueling, painful, lonely hours! What grief! This woman had been in the bonds of the devil for eighteen years, bowed together!
Reader, are you like this poor woman? Have you been bowed down in spirit for a long, long time? Perhaps your inner despondency, your soul’s constant unrest is an affliction no one can understand. If you are such, take hope. — This woman’s cure came in a moment. The chain, which it took Satan eighteen years to forge, the Son of God broke in an instant!
Do not forget that though she was in such a miserable condition for such a long, long time, all the while she was a child of Abraham. Her heart was right with God.
Second, the Spirit of God shows us what this poor soul did. — “And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, 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” (vv. 10-11).
This poor woman, bowed together as she was in body and in spirit, was in the house of prayer on the Sabbath day. And it was while she was there in the house of prayer that she found the liberty she craved in her soul. For eighteen years she had come to the house of God in excruciating pain and gone home again in torment. But on this day, she was cured. Mercy was found in the house of prayer.
There was nothing about her life and nothing in her spiritual condition to give her comfort. And she could not lift herself up. But she could go to the house of God. She could worship God. Even in her misery she honored God. And God always honors those who honor him. She came to the house of prayer, because everything she needed was to be found there. The Lord was there. His Word was there. His people were there. His instruction was to be found there. His mercy was to be found there. I can almost hear her singing Psalm 122, as she skipped and danced home that day!
This woman, who might have been reasonably excused for not attending the worship of God, made it her business to be in the house of God on the day of public worship. What is your excuse for neglecting it?
Third, the Holy Spirit tells us how the Lord Jesus healed this poor soul of her infirmity. — “And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God” (vv. 12-13). Look at how Luke describes this woman’s cure. She had been bound by Satan for eighteen years. But Christ came to set her free. And this is how he did it.
“When Jesus saw her, he called her to him.” When he called her, he spoke to her and spoke effectually, causing her disease to flee from her. — “Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.” Then “he laid his hands on her,” his almighty, tender, nail pierced hands! And, “immediately she was made straight.” Man can never make straight that which God has made crooked. But the Son of God can easily make straight what sin and Satan have made crooked. As soon as she was cured, she “glorified God!”
Shackled by a heavy burden
'Neath a load of guilt and shame
Then the hand of Jesus touched me
And now I am no longer the same.
He touched me, Oh, He touched me
And oh the joy that floods my soul
Something happened and now I know
He touched me and made me whole
Since I met the blessed Savior
And since He cleansed and made me whole
I will never cease to praise Him. —
I'll shout it while eternity roll.
Oh He touched me! Oh He touched me!
And oh what a joy that floods my soul!
Something happened and now I know,
He touched me and made me whole!
The Lord permitted Satan to afflict the child of his love for eighteen years, so that she might glorify him forever. Her deep sorrow, when it was over, made her song most sweet.
No sooner was one trial over than another began. As soon as this woman was healed, she was involved in great conflict with a self-righteous, religious hypocrite. This man was upset, because this woman was healed on the sabbath day! — “And 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” (v. 14).
The sabbath day was a day of rest. And now, for the first time in eighteen years, this poor soul was at rest. But this legalist could not stand it. Legalism is hard. The legalist is more concerned for laws, rules, customs, and days than he is for the needs of human beings. Legalism is haughty. The legalist is always proud and self-righteous. Legalism is hypocrisy. Every man who pretends to live by the law of God is a hypocrite. Legalists always lower the standard of the law, which is perfection, perfect holiness, perfect obedience. By lowering the law’s standard to themselves, they vainly imagine that they are holier than others.
The Lord Jesus tenderly comforted his beloved child by three things: (1.) He answered her adversary (v. 15). (2.) He assured her of her acceptance (v. 16). And (3.) he graciously used her to be an instrument for the glory of God (v. 17).
“The 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? And 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? And 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” (13:15-17).
When our Lord gets done, all his enemies and ours shall forever be ashamed. In that great, eternal day all his people shall forever rejoice in the glorious things that have been done by him. And you and I, sinners saved by his grace, shall be named among those glorious things done by him, for which he shall be praised forever!
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