18 years is a long time. Baby boys turn to men in 18 years. Wars are fought and won in 18 years. Fashions come and go and come back again in 18 years. 18 years is a long time to be oppressed. So when Jesus saw this woman who had been bound by Satan for 18 long years, it was for Him a no-brainer. He stretched forth His hand and healed her.
I wonder if Jesus knew this would cause such an controversy in the synagogue that day? Perhaps the controversy then helps us answer the controversy stirring amongst Christians today, “Is divine healing for today?”
When the synagogue leaders objected to the healing on the Sabath, Jesus replied with great indignation: “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?” (Luke 13:16 NIV) In His response, Jesus settled two crucial questions that prevent us from believing healing is for today.
1. Jesus referred to this woman as “a daughter of Abraham”‘ indicating she was under the covenant of Abraham. Paul writes as Christians we too are heirs of Abraham. We have a covenant of healing. The Old Testament reminds us to remember that God forgives all of our sins AND heals all of our diseases. Isaiah prophesied and Peter confirmed that the stripes of Jesus would bring healing. Healing is part of our salvation packet. The word for saved, Sozo, also means healing. This healing is complete – physical and emotional.
2. Jesus identified the source of the sickness – Satan. In this culture, sickness was seen as a punishment from God because of sin. People actually felt justified in being mean to people with disabilities thinking they were doing God’s work, punishing the sinner. It could have been the ruler of the synagogue was unhappy that this “sinner” had don the doors of this holy place. Today our thinking may not be as extreme but we often credit sickness to God. We often believe God sends sickness as a punishment or a teacher. But Jesus settled the argument once and for all when he proclaimed, “this woman has been bound by Satan.” It is Satan who comes to kill our bodies, steal our dignity and destroy our lives. That is his mission. But Jesus has come to save (sozo – to save, heal, cure, preserve, keep safe and sound, rescue from danger or destruction, deliver) you. Don’t get the two confused.
This woman’s story is all of our stories. We each may have a situation lingering in our lives – sickness, oppression, wayward child, bad marriage, addictions – for a long time. Perhaps we feel as if this is our burden to bear. Perhaps we have believed God has given this to us to punish or to teach. But today, God has sent me to remind you, “You are son, a daughter of Abraham. You have covenant of healing. God has not sent this your way to neither teach or punish. And by His stripes you are healed. By his blood you have been set free from oppression, addiction, hopelessness. Man, woman, son, daughter today you are loosed, set free!”
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. (Luke 13:11-13 NIV)