10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. 14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” 15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” 17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.
This is a powerful story of transformation. Tackling centuries of rule-making and legalism, Jesus used a dramatic example of transformation to confront people’s faith. The example was a woman’s body and spirit, a body bent over, weighed down, her bones fused, muscles tight and shrunken, useless.
In a similar way the people’s faith was shrunken to rule keeping, successfully complying with a myriad of dos and don’ts set by the religious leaders. God’s transforming power was no longer the focus of their faith.
Jesus brought freedom. Physically and spiritually for the woman, and a beautiful freedom in faith for the Jews standing by. All were coming back to God as what was robbing them of life was swept away by Jesus’ powerful act and words. Jesus brought restoration and transformation. I love v 17, where we see the people are delighted in what Jesus was doing, in complete contrast to the indignation of the religious leaders – v14.
Jesus brings freedom. To each of us he brings freedom from condemnation and guilt. He brings us restoration to spiritual wholeness, as we grow in our relationship with God. He restores our faith. Sometimes I feel like my faith is shrunken, useless, like the lady’s crippled body. But Jesus brings fresh, real faith.
Thank you Jesus that you bring a fresh shout of faith from my mouth today! I delight in you. Thank you for your transforming grace. Amen
Written by Claire Moore