Luke 13 tells a stunning story of compassion and healing today. Jesus is teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath and a woman who has been bent over for 18 years is present. Crippled by a spirit, she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect. Jesus calls out to her to say she is freed of her infirmity and then goes over to her to lay his hands upon her. She stands up straight and immediately praises God. The leaders are irate that he has chosen to heal her on the Sabbath and tells the crowd to come the other six days to be healed. Jesus reacts sharply by scolding the hypocrites, saying that the poor daughter of Abraham deserved to be set free from her bondage. His opponents were shamed and the others in the crowd rejoiced at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
This reading has so many levels to it. I have loved it a long time but a turning point came while reading Mary Lou Sleevi’s book Women of the Word when she talked about the bent woman as a question mark that became an exclamation point. That image has always stayed with me. God makes crooked things straight. Also in this story, the one completely incapable is made capable. More than that, readers see that the leaders of the synagogue are completely incapable of seeing God’s goodness at work here as they choose rules over love. Everyone else in the story rejoices and praises God.
We all can be any of these folks. Some days we have a lot of questions for God, who provides an answer and then we can exclaim praises. Some days we get mired down in the logistics and argue–but God, this is not supposed to work this way. Other times we can simply rejoice at being a witness to God’s great goodness. We all can be completely incapable of comprehending God’s ways. That’s when Jesus can remind us that we are all poor children of Abraham.
On another note, Jesus wastes no time to get rid of the demons that crippled the woman. He notices them in the space and immediately deals with the issue without being asked. He calls out to her and tells her she is freed. He lays his hands on her and immediately she knows that the spirit has left. We are completely incapable of knowing what Jesus can do until we experience the miracle firsthand. Then our world is forever changed.
When have you been completely incapable of comprehending God’s great goodness?
Which of the people in the story do you represent right now?
We are completely incapable of
grasping your great goodness, God.
Turn our question marks into
exclamation points of praise.