Today’s Readings: Luke 13:10-17 and 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13
In some ways (and probably many others outside of today’s observation), my husband and I defy the norm when it comes to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). One of the major abnormalities is that we seem to break the norm when it comes to homes and living location. People tend to move every 3-5 year, however we have lived in the same place for over 28 years!
What has this got to do with today’s reading? We live in a small cul-de-sac, and as such we have the joy of living in close community with our neighbours. A few years after we had been in our home, an elderly ethnic couple who spoke little to no English moved in next door, with our only communication really centred around waving and smiling as we reversed down our drive way, or collected the letters from the letter box.
Over the years, we watched as this beautiful lady, barely 5 foot tall, slowly succumbed to a degenerative disease that caused her to become more and more bent in her stance; an elderly Mama who eventually was bent over at almost 90%, and as she walked, placing her hands on her knees as she shuffled painfully to take each step and to balance.
There was however some level of difference (but at the same time a similarity) with our dear neighbour and the women in our passage today; a single word. The women in our passage ‘had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years’. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all.’ Luke 12:11 Luke tells us that satan was and had been at work in her life to cause this illness. My neighbour was crippled by the degeneration of her spine which, as we understand is one of the sad factors of a fallen world; the sinful state of the world we live in; no this was not a result of her own personal actions.
But as the women in our passage meets Jesus, she experienced the incredible healing power of Jesus who ‘ …. set her free from her deformity…’ vs 13 and she immediately straightened up! What an incredible experience it must have been to finally after so many years to walk up-right and look another person in the face, but more so, wouldn’t you have loved to have been there to see the reaction of those around!
For the women in our story, Luke explains how she was personally ‘bound by Satan’ vs 16. Jesus’ decision and action to release her from her suffering at this point in his ministry demonstrated in the careful order of his time on earth, the incredible saving effects of a God who is in control of ALL things; healing which resulted in ‘… his (Jesus) opponents to be humiliated, and the people to be delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.’ vs 17
But for us today, it also highlights how if we are not careful, we can allow the ‘rules and regulations’ to cripple us. The synagogue rulers were indignant; had allowed the rules to cripple their own ability to lift their eyes to understand compassion.
I pray I will never be so crippled with life; so bent over with the sins and constraints of this world, that I fail to be able to lift my eyes from the ground to see the beauty of life and hope that can only be found in Christ, and the light that shines on the path God has set before me to walk.
For it was Jesus who was sent to ‘… preach good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour’. (Luke 4:18 / Isaiah 61:1-2)