Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 13:1-17 – Glorious Things Done By Jesus

Grace For The Journey

We have been talking in recent weeks about the matter of “active listening.”  We listen to the reading, preaching, and teaching of the Word intentionally, listening as though our lives depended upon it, as indeed they do.  Active listening is to be contrasted with passive listening, hearing of the Word, but not really being tuned-in to the Word.  People were certainly listening actively to Jesus.  In the passage before is today, Luke gives us Jesus’ last teaching in a synagogue.  The people are listening carefully to Jesus and verse 17, gives the response of the people to what Jesus had been saying and doing.  It says, “And when He had said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitudes rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.”  Picking up on that last phrase, I want to look in our study today on the matter of the “Glorious Things Done by Jesus.”

This passage divides evenly into two main sections.  If you like outlines, perhaps this will help you to arrange the material for your thinking. 

  • We have Jesus healing a woman inverses 10 to 13;
  • And then in verses 14 to 17 we have Jesus dealing with someone who objects to the healing, a person Jesus calls out for his hypocrisy

Let’s look a little more closely at this passage before taking away some pointed principles that surface from our study. 

First . . . 

I. Consider The Healing. 

Verses 10 and 11 tells us, “Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.  And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.”

This woman’s condition did not keep her from being active in the synagogue.  She came to learn and worship, never once complaining of her plight.  She had been bent over for years and I am sure walked very slowly.  She was bent over like that all the time.  The Bible does not tell us what kind of condition she had.  Most scholars believe had some sort of arthritic problem that prevented her from standing up straight.

Verse 11says that the woman’s condition was caused originally by “a spirit of infirmity,” or an “evil spirit.”  This is not to say that the woman was demon-possessed, but that her condition was like every person’s condition in a fallen world.  This was a common way to refer to sickness, all sickness – spiritually and physically – stands in need of Christ’s redemptive work.  This woman needed healing. 

Verse 12 and 13 tell us, “But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, ‘Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity’ (Literally, “Set free from your sickness.”) And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

Now the larger context – and we will see this more fully next time when we look at the two parables that follow; the parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the leaven – the larger context of this healing concerns Jesus and the arrival of His Kingdom, the Kingdom of God.

The healing of this woman is about primarily the arrival of the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom of God comes with Christ.  It is both “now” and “not yet.”  It is “now” for those who look to the redemptive work of Christ and receive Him as Lord and Savior, those who believe Jesus to be the Son of God.  For these, the Kingdom of God has come “in part.”  When Christ returns, the Kingdom of God will come “in full.” 

This is the larger context as seen when you turn in your Bibles back a few chapters to chapter 4 of Luke’s Gospel and you recall how Jesus began His earthly ministry.  He was in another synagogue there and He had stood to read from the Old Testament and reading from Isaiah in Luke 4:18, He says, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”  This is what Jesus has been doing since leaving that synagogue in chapter 4, all through chapters 5 through 13.  He has been “preaching the gospel to the poor; healing the brokenhearted, proclaiming liberty to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and setting at liberty those who are oppressed.”  These works are evidence of the fact, He says in Luke 11:20 that, “The Kingdom of God has come upon you.” 

That is the healing.  It is followed by the hypocrisy . . .

II. Consider The Hypocrisy.

Verse 14 states, “But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, ‘There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.’”  This Jewish synagogue ruler took care of the facilities, coordinated meetings there, and oversaw the teaching.  He was a strict observer of the Law, but blind to the point of the Law.  He did not believe Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law.  He did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God and did not want the crowd getting caught up with Him, either.  So this man – intending his words for Jesus – speaks them to the crowd!  The synagogue ruler misses the point of the Sabbath entirely.  As Jesus says elsewhere, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).”   

Verse 15 tells us, “The Lord then answered him and said, ‘Hypocrite!  Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it?’”  Jewish law made allowances for acts of mercy and necessity on the Sabbath, including caring for the needs of animals.  Jesus says, “Look, if it’s permissible for you to “set free” a bound ox or a donkey in order to meet its needs, how much more should you desire to “set free” a bound woman in order to meet her needs?  Jesus continues in verse 16 by saying, “So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham (a fellow Jew), whom Satan has bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?”   

Jesus rightly calls the synagogue ruler out on his hypocrisy.  He was a hypocrite because he allowed his zeal for the Law to keep him from understanding the point of the Law.  His religiosity eclipsed necessary virtues like compassion, kindness, and mercy.  He cared more for animals than for humans!  If on the Sabbath “bound” animals may be given water to drink, how much more should “bound” souls be given to drink the Living Water?   Verse 17 concludes with, “And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.” 

In the time remaining, let’s consider together a few of the “Glorious things done by Jesus.”  First, this passage teaches that . . .

1) Jesus Has Power Over My Sickness.

Here is a woman who has been sick for 18 years and Jesus heals her.  The healing happens instantaneously and without any act of faith required on her part.  Verses 12 and 13 simply say that Jesus saw the woman, called her to Himself, and healed her.  That is it.  It happens quickly and instantaneously.  And her response is natural – the last part of verse 13 says she “glorified God.”  That is what we do when we are healed!

Apparently, she was used to glorifying God.  After all, she is there in the synagogue for the purpose of glorifying God through corporate worship.  It is hardly possible to preach on, or study, this text without noting that here is a woman, physically-challenged, bent over, but she has made it to “church” to worship.  I am sure he did not always “feel” like coming to worship, but she came nonetheless.  I think it is helpful for those of us who are younger to realize and appreciate the great lengths to which some people go to be in worship every Sunday, especially some of our older, faithful members.  This is one of the benefits of a healthy church family where there are people from every generation.  Some go to great lengths just to be present for worship.

This woman was sick and Jesus healed her of her sickness.  Ultimately all healing comes by way of the Good Physician, our Lord Jesus, whether healing comes by His saying the word or through a medical doctor or medicine.  Jesus has power over all sickness.

At the same time, however, we must take care to note that it is not always God’s will to heal physically every person.  Remember that this woman had been sick for 18 years.  18 years is a long time.  She was not “out of God’s will,” nor can we conclude that she did anything to deserve her sickness.  Like the man born blind in John 9, this woman was sick so that “the works (and glory) of God should be revealed” in her (John 9:3).  This truth can be safely concluded about all of God’s children who are bound in sickness.  Though we may not understand fully all of God’s ways, we can be sure that He knows what He is doing with us and that we are sick not without the notice of His tender care.  We are what we are that “the works of God should be revealed” in us – however God so chooses to “work” His works.

Jesus has power over my sickness.  Secondly . . .

2) Jesus Has Power Over My Sorrow.

This passage also serves to remind us that Jesus cares for the outcast, the downtrodden, the looked-over, the despised, the unnoticed, and the rejected.  Can you picture this bent-over woman coming to the synagogue every Sabbath?  No doubt people pointed fingers at her and whispered about her.  Imagine how she slowly struggled to make her way to the synagogue and stumbled about trying to find a place to sit down.  Charles Spurgeon suggests she may have “walked about as if she were searching for a grave.”

What a sight she must have been – and what sorrow she must have felt.  Yet while she came sorrowing, she went home singing!  The Bible says she left “glorifying God.”  This is one of the joys of meeting Jesus in public worship.  How many times have we said, “You know, I did not feel like coming today, but I sure am glad I did.”   We come sorrowing and we go home singing.

Jesus has power over your sorrows.  He knows all things.  Verse 12 says, “But when Jesus saw her.”  Jesus saw her.  He sees you, too.  He knows you.  He knows the pain you feel, the hurt you have, and the trials you face.  He loves you and is there for you.

If you can believe that and trust Him, you too may go home singing today.  Jesus has power over our sickness and power over our sorrow.  And all this because, thirdly . . .

3) Jesus Has Power Over My Sin.

Every physical healing of Jesus is an illustration of spiritual healing.  Our need for spiritual healing is far greater than our need for physical healing.  We are all in need of spiritual healing.  The Bible says in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  We are all sinners, “bent over,” if you like, just as this woman, bent over in sin.  We are fallen.  And there is no one who can “straighten us up” but Jesus.  I really do not want to make too much of the imagery here, but it is true, isn’t it?  We are bent over in sin and Jesus comes to straighten us up.  He comes to us.  He takes the initiative and sets us free.

There is no evidence here that this woman comes to be healed.  She is just “there,” just like many of us today would say we are just “here.”  This woman asks for nothing.  She is just there, and Jesus sees her.  He takes the initiative.  We serve an Initiative-Taking God!  He comes to us in our sinful condition.  He sees us and He comes to us and He “sets us free.”  Here again is what makes Christianity different from every other major religion.  Salvation comes not in our attempts to “get up there to God,” but salvation comes as a result of God’s coming down to us, dying on a cross for our sins, and rising for our justification, so that we by faith, receiving Him into our lives may be saved.  He knows what we are going through, He sees us, and He comes to us in power to reclaim and restore!

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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