STOOPED WOMAN HEALED
10As He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath, 11 a woman was there who had been disabled by a spirit for over 18 years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, He called out to her, “Woman, you are free of your disability.” 13 Then He laid His hands on her, and instantly she was restored and began to glorify God.
14 But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, responded by telling the crowd, “There are six days when work should be done; therefore come on those days and be healed and not on the Sabbath day.”
15 But the Lord answered him and said, “Hypocrites! Doesn’t each one of you untie his ox or donkey from the feeding trough on the Sabbath and lead it to water? 16 Satan has bound this woman, a daughter of Abraham, for 18 years — shouldn’t she be untied from this bondage on the Sabbath day?”
17 When He had said these things, all His adversaries were humiliated, but the whole crowd was rejoicing over all the glorious things He was doing.
Scholars believe this is the last recorded synagogue incident in the life of Jesus. In the audience there was a woman who apparently had a curvature of the spine. Her condition would appear to have been a purely physical problem, but she was bound by Satan. Such a combination of illness and demonic oppression was recognized in Judaism. Jesus said, “Woman, you are free of your disability,” then she was freed from her disability, and He laid hands on her. This suggests a demonic stronghold because Jesus never laid hands on anyone under demonic oppression or possession. If He touched the person, it was only after that individual was “loosed” or “restored” from the oppressor. Jesus did not come to heal the sick, heal the blind, raise the dead, or do other miracles per se, but He came to destroy the works of the devil which cause sickness, blindness, and death so that man would be restored into the image of God. Amazingly, the synagogue leader was incensed at the healing and, thereby, displayed complete lack of compassion for her infirmity.
“She was bent over.” Some medical scholars believe this woman suffered from spondylitis ankylopoietica, an ailment that is a fusion of the spinal joints. Her bones were not only inflexible, but they were a long rigid mass of bone in a bent-over position.
The synagogue leader, or president, is a clear illustration of the problem Jesus had with national Israel. The woman was referred to as a “daughter of Abraham,” and, as such, was a rightful heir to all of the blessings promised by the Abrahamic Covenant. Yet the restrictive Oral Laws of “national Israel” kept her from receiving what was rightfully hers. Into the life of Israel came Jesus, to set people free from their oppression – but the religious leaders opposed Him. They were as rigid and inflexible as she had been.
The nation was given the laws of God so that the Jewish people would live holy lives and tell other nations to do the same. Israel failed to do this; consequently, the nation was invaded, tribes taken captive, and the land plundered by foreign armies. Once they returned to the Promised Land, they had a host of invading armies: the Persians, the Greeks, and finally the Romans. Just as the stooped woman had lived a crippled life, so Israel had become spiritually crippled. Jesus called her to Himself and healed her, just as He desired to call Israel to Himself and heal the nation. But rather than accepting Him or His healing, national Israel rejected Him as represented by the ruler of the synagogue who rebuked Him for performing a healing on the Sabbath Day. Jesus then informed the ruler that it was permissible for him to untie a donkey and give it water on the Sabbath, yet this woman who was heir to the covenant of Abraham could not receive a blessing on the holy day. Jesus demonstrated compassion while her rabbi showed only religious legalism, which is why Jesus was merciless toward him. The lesson is simple: Anyone who desires compassion from Jesus must be compassionate to others.
. See Dead Sea Scroll 1QapGen 20:16-29.
. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 317.
. For a study of Jewish covenants from a messianic Jewish perspective, see Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology.
. See 03.02.04 and 03.02.08.
. For the Persians see 03.04.02, the Greeks see 03.04.07, and the Romans see 03.05.24.
. An excellent resource for further study is Hagner, “Jesus and the Synoptic Sabbath Controversies.” 270-88.