“On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 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. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 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?” When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.” (Luke 13:10-17)
Ok, so this is the scripture that my Jesus shared with me this morning. I confess it has been a long time since I really made it a point to spend some real quality time with him. Honestly, I struggle with feeling like I need to get my act together…then maybe I can come before him…which is such a lie from Satan himself. Immediately when I read this scripture, I felt like Jesus was talking to me…like he was in the room, right there beside me. I have been struggling lately to know what I’m supposed to do with myself. I have just felt so lost. There have been a lot of things on my plate lately and I have no coping skills whatsoever and honestly, I have just felt heart-sick. I have felt so distant from the Lord and have desperately needed to hear his voice and to receive his love and direction. So this morning I found myself FINALLY submitting to just being quiet before him. Why is that so hard??? I get so caught up in the day-to-day…I know what I need to do…just slow down and LISTEN!!!! Here’s the deal, I know why its’ hard, because it is opposed, but this morning, I did it…and I’m so glad I did! He spoke so many beautiful things into my heart, so I thought I would share.
First of all, I just LOVE the fact that this scripture says that Jesus saw this woman and called her forward to himself. Here it is, it’s the Sabbath, there’s a full house, the synagogue is crowded with all these people, and yet, Jesus SAW this woman. As women, how many times do we feel unseen and unsought after? Doesn’t it sometimes feel like we can get so lost in the shuffle…in the daily grind??? You start to believe awful things like maybe you are unseen…like no one is pursuing your heart…or worse, that your heart doesn’t even matter. I absolutely love Isaiah 62:12. It says, “They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted.” The first time I read that scripture, I’m telling you, I was a puddle on the floor. It spoke directly to my heart! Jesus calls us “Sought After”…he PURSUES US!!! Just think about the woman in Luke chapter 13….she has been bound up with this infirmity for “18 long years”…did you catch that??…”long years” She has had a tough go at life…don’t you think this woman was probably starting to believe that this was going to be her story forever? I can imagine she just thought that she was going to go the rest of her life with this infirmity and no one would ever see her and that she didn’t matter. Then Jesus calls her to himself before all the leaders of the synagogue and all those people, and he speaks those healing words, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” and he touches her and he heals her. What a powerful and tender moment that was!
The second thing that spoke so profoundly to me was that not only did Jesus free her from her infirmity, he also fought for her heart. Of course, as soon as she has received this healing from Jesus, the synagogue leaders just have to poison the moment with their religiosity. How do you think that made her feel when they condemned Jesus for healing her on the Sabbath? Those guys seem so cold and unfeeling…it’s like thanks a lot, I’m better now and I can see you’re thrilled about it….(dripping with sarcasm…) But OH! Just like a knight in shining armor, Jesus steps in and he defends her and he fights for her heart. He calls those guys out and he tells them that they are hypocrites. They have completely missed the point. They are just mindlessly following a set of rules and have completely disengaged their hearts….which is yet another thing that hit me square in the face. Here I have gone all these weeks and months thinking I have GOT TO GET IT TOGETHER…when all along, Jesus is just patiently waiting for me to just surrender my heart…to be engaged with him…not because my house is spotless and all my meals are planned and on a budget, not because I am serving in every capacity possible at church, not because I am going through all the religious motions. Let me tell you, he wants more. He wants me to be vulnerable. He wants me to walk with him. Luke 13:22 says, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door,” Following a set of religious do’s and don’t’s is the easy way out. Engaging your heart, listening for the voice of Jesus, pursuing him and having the vulnerability to allow him to pursue you…that’s tough…that’s the narrow door.
Jesus wants your heart…Jesus wants my heart. It’s much harder that way. It requires so much more. But he is “gentle and humble in heart, he will give you rest for your soul.” (Matthew 11:29) I don’t know why I’ve been fighting it. It’s just like a baby fighting a nap….you know that cranky, unhappy baby just needs rest, but it’s like they won’t give it up without fighting it first. I confess, I have been fighting submitting myself before my Jesus. I’m ready now…I’m ready to be vulnerable before him and to rest in him.
I want to leave you with one more scripture that I believe speaks to what this woman in Luke 13 experienced and what Jesus wants me and all of us to experience. It’s one of my absolutely most beloved scriptures. I hope this little blog has blessed you today!
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion–to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:1-3